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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    716

    Invisibility at the flick of a switch

    I wonder if they'll sell this in the back of comic books??....


    Adverts for x-ray specs have tantalised kids throughout the decades. Sadly the reality is always a pair of useless plastic glasses, but this could all change due to a breakthrough made at Imperial College London. By exploiting the way that atoms move in solids the researchers have made solid materials turn completely transparent. 'This real life x-ray specs effect relies on a property of matter that is usually ignored that the electrons it contains move in a wave-like way', says Chris Phillips. 'What we have learnt is how to control these waves directly'.

    The secret to this breakthrough at Imperial College London is specially patterned crystals made up of nanoscale boxes that hold electrons. 'Basically we have made 'designer atoms'', says Chris. 'By choosing the size and shape of our little boxes, we can use the rules of quantum mechanics to choose the energy levels of the electrons that are trapped inside them'. When light is shone on these crystals it becomes entangled at a molecular level rather than being absorbed, causing the material to become transparent. 'You can think of the effect as similar to the way that the peaks and troughs of water waves cancel each other out to create calm water', explains Mark Frogley. 'In the materials created it is the wave patterns of the electrons that cancel each other allowing light to travel through the material and making it transparent'. At the moment the effect can only be produced in a lab under specific conditions but future applications could include seeing through rubble at earthquake sites, or looking at parts of the body obscured by bone.

    Despite the almost magical feat of making solids transparent the key finding of this research is the fundamental physical effect creating the transparency. This effect has potential in the development of new efficient lasers, data security and quantum computing.

    A stumbling block for the development of lasers has always been the need to create something called population inversion in the material that amplifies the light, normally glass or crystal. 'Einstein showed that, to make lasers, you need to excite the molecules into this population inversion condition, where they no longer absorb light', explains Mark. The breakthrough at Imperial College London demonstrates that light can now be amplified without the need to create population inversion. This contradicts Einstein's long-standing rule, and opens up the way for the development of a whole new range of lasers.

    Data security could be improved due to the discovery that as light passes through these crystals it slows right down and could potentially be stopped and stored. Chris explains, 'When we send information as light pulses down optical fibres, it can only be accessed by making a form of measurement, which disturbs the information. This technology means we could send light signals through a network without having to disturb them ourselves. So, if confidential information was being spied on, the disturbance would show up and we could nab the eavesdropper with 100% certainty'.

    Dr Mark Frogley and Professor Chris Phillips
    Imperial College London

    Dr James Dynes
    University College London

    Dr Mattias Beck
    ETH Zurich, Switzerland

    Prof. Jerome Faist
    University of Neuchatel, Switzerland
    A giant mushroom cloud, 24 empty missile tubes... It's Miller Time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,167

    Re: Invisibility at the flick of a switch

    That is awesome. This research will pan out into something incredible in the future... I can't wait to see where it all takes us

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    716

    Re: Invisibility at the flick of a switch

    Quote Originally Posted by aegist
    That is awesome. This research will pan out into something incredible in the future... I can't wait to see where it all takes us
    The very last paragraph is what interests me.
    A giant mushroom cloud, 24 empty missile tubes... It's Miller Time!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    26,289

    Re: Invisibility at the flick of a switch

    Quote Originally Posted by USNavySubSailor
    The very last paragraph is what interests me.
    first as an independent observer i have to ask!?what IS your PERSONAL INTENT!?and why is this YOURS!?(alone)hehe!!for this if i may exlain to others (who are they!?)denotes the difference between INDEPENDENT and DEPENDENT dont you conclude!?hehe!?just askin like a fellow HUMAN BEING!?(who's visible,who's not!?)..you decide!?...just askin.........

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