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Light

Physics

Image captures light as both wave and particle for very first time

In 1905, Albert Einstein provided an explanation of the photoelectric effect – that various metals emit electrons when light is shined on them – by suggesting that a beam of light is not simply a wave of electromagnetic radiation, but is also made up of discrete packets of energy called photons. Though a long accepted tenet in physics, no experiment has ever directly observed this wave/particle duality. Now, however, researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland claim to have captured an image of this phenomenon for the first time ever.Read More

Quantum Computing

New micro-ring resonator creates quantum entanglement on a silicon chip

The quantum entanglement of particles, such as photons, is a prerequisite for the new and future technologies of quantum computing, telecommunications, and cyber security. Real-world applications that take advantage of this technology, however, will not be fully realized until devices that produce such quantum states leave the realms of the laboratory and are made both small and energy efficient enough to be embedded in electronic equipment. In this vein, European scientists have created and installed a tiny "ring-resonator" on a microchip that is claimed to produce copious numbers of entangled photons while using very little power to do so.Read More

Mobile Technology

Prototype Microsoft system uses indoor light to wirelessly charge phones

Wireless charging pads may be more convenient than traditional wired smartphone chargers, but a team from Microsoft Research in China thinks that they're still not convenient enough. According to Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zhao, pads still require users to consciously place their phone in a specific spot, for the express purpose of charging. Instead, they envision a system in which users just toss their phone onto a table, where it's automatically charged using a beam of light. They've already built a working prototype of the system, which is known as AutoCharge. Read More

Space

New crowdsourcing project calls on citizen scientists to catalog images of cities at night

A new crowdsourcing initiative is calling upon the public to help catalog the ever increasing library of images snapped of our planet, and more importantly its cities, at night from the International Space Station (ISS). With your help, the Cities at Night project could help map light pollution spanning the course of the 16 year period in which the images where taken, with the added bonus of giving volunteers the opportunity to flick through a catalog of stunning images that highlight the mark we make on our planet at night.Read More

Science

Amsterdam Central train station sports a high-tech rainbow

Every night, for just a short time after sunset, Amsterdam Central Station becomes Rainbow Station. A four-kilowatt spotlight projects a stunning rainbow through a custom-designed liquid crystal spectral filter onto one of the station's 45 by 25 meter (148 by 82 feet) roof arches, just above platform 2b. This liquid crystal optics technology is being developed for research on exoplanets, but it will light up Amsterdam Central – and the lives of thousands of travellers – every night for a year.Read More

Science

Blu-ray discs could help make better solar cells

Blu-ray discs have proven themselves superior to DVDs as storage media in light of their high capacity, high definition, and higher transfer rate. Now researchers claim that Blu-ray discs have one more advantage over DVDs: they also have the ability to help markedly improve the efficiency of solar cells, when their etched information patterns are repurposed for use as light concentrators. Read More

Electronics

Cheap, ultra low-power light source runs on just 0.1 Watts

Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new low-cost flat panel light source that could pioneer a new generation of brighter, cheaper and greener lighting devices to rival LEDs. The device uses arrays of highly conductive carbon nanotubes to deliver evenly-distributed illumination with high efficiency and a power consumption as low as 0.1 Watts – about 100 times lower than that of light-emitting diodes. Read More

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