New kind of light created in physics breakthrough
Physicists have created a new kind of light by chilling photons into a blob state. Just like solids, liquids and gases, this recently discovered condition represents a state of matter. Called a Bose-Einstein condensate, it was created in 1995 with super-cold atoms of a gas, but scientists had thought it could not be done with photons, which are basic units of light. However, physicists Jan Klärs, Julian Schmitt, Frank Vewinger and Martin Weitz of the University of Bonn in Germany reported accomplishing it. Particles in a traditional Bose-Einstein condensate are cooled down close to absolute zero, until they glom onto each other and become indistinguishable, acting as one giant particle. The scientists needed to find a way to cool the photons without decreasing their numbers. "Many scientists believed that it would not be possible, but I was pretty sure that it would work," Weitz told LiveScience. The mirrors trapped the photons by keeping them bouncing back and forth in a confined state.