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Photon

Space

Quantum spacetime more like foam rubber than beer foam

A recent study of gamma-ray bursts by Professor Robert Nemiroff and his colleagues at Michigan Technological University provides the first strong evidence concerning the small-scale smoothness of spacetime. Oddly, this examination of the very small is accomplished by measuring a handful of gamma-rays after they traveled over ten billion light years.Read More

Science

Faster-than-light travel observed ... of neutrinos, maybe

According to Einstein’s restricted theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum. Up until today, that had pretty much seemed to be the case, too. Early this morning, however, researchers from the Geneva-based OPERA project announced that the results from one of their recent experiments indicate that neutrinos can in fact outrun light particles.Read More

Electronics

All-optical transistor created

Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a microresonator that produces vibrations from laser light. The device also uses one laser beam to control the intensity of another, thus making it essentially an optical transistor. The technology could have big implications in fields such as telecommunications. Read More

Science

Encryption set for a quantum leap

Quantum cryptography has been around since the 1980's but up until now only very small packets of information have been able to be encrypted at one time. Now a breakthrough that identifies the angle and rotation of photon particles is taking this technology to the next level.Read More

Environment

Discovery gives hope for efficient, flexible, inexpensive plastic solar cells

Silicon-based solar cells, by far the most prevalent type of solar cell available today, might provide clean, green energy but they are bulky, rigid and expensive to produce. Organic (carbon-based) semiconductors are seen as a promising way to enable flexible, lightweight solar cells that would also be much cheaper to produce as they could be “printed” in large plastic sheets at room temperature. New research from physicists at Rutgers University has strengthened hopes that solar cells based on organic semiconductors may one day overtake silicon solar cells in cost and performance, thereby increasing the practicality of solar-generated electricity as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels. Read More

Science

Physicists change color of photons in fiber optic cable

Physicists from the University of Oregon have successfully changed the color of individual photons within a fiber optic cable. They were able to do so by focusing a dual-color burst of light from two lasers onto an optical cable carrying a single photon of a distinct color. Through a process known as Bragg scattering, a small amount of energy was exchanged between the laser light and the photon, causing the photon to change color. The achievement could pave the way for transferring and receiving high volumes of secured electronic data.Read More

Environment

Nanoscale solar cells absorb 10 times more energy than previously thought possible

Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory.Read More

Science

Nano antenna amplifies light by a factor of 1,000

Scientists at Houston’s Rice University have successfully increased the intensity of laser light a thousand-fold by shining it into a “nanoantenna.” At the heart of the device are two gold tips, separated by a gap measuring about a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair. At the point where it passed through that gap, the light was “grabbed” and concentrated. Condensed matter physicist Doug Natelson believes that the technology could be useful in the development of tools for optics and chemical/biological sensing, with applications in industrial safety, defense and homeland security.Read More

Science

Two-photon walk a giant stride for quantum computing

Research conducted at the University of Bristol means a number of quantum computing algorithms may soon be able to execute calculations of a complexity far beyond what today's computers allow us to do. The breakthrough involves the use of a specially designed optical chip to perform what's known as a "quantum walk" with two particles ... and it suggests the era of quantum computing may be approaching faster than the scientific establishment had predicted.Read More

Environment

Carbon nanotube “solar funnel” for smaller, more efficient solar cells

The size and efficiency of current photovoltaic (PV) cells means most people would probably have to cover large areas of their rooftops with such cells to even come close to meeting all their electricity needs. Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have now found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular PV cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays. Read More

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