Photonic Molecules: A new form of light


When a group of atoms are bind together, we call it a molecule. Similarly when a group of photons interact with each other and bind themselves. We call these strange bonds of photon - photonic molecules.

Generally light particles or photons don't interact with each other, but scientists from MIT, Harvard University and other universities  have shown us that photons can be made to interact and this could be the door to the world of quantum computing.

How these strange molecules were formed:

Scientists have created a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as they have masses, and they bind together to form molecules. This type of photonic bonds state has been discussed theoretically for years, but in this year we got a solid proof of it's existence.

Researchers did this by shooting a green laser into an ultra cold gaseous cloud of rubidium atoms and the results were doublets and triplets of photons.

Now let's understand this in a much deeper way.

Researchers started their experiments by pumping rubidium atoms into a vacuum chamber, then used lasers to cool the cloud of atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero. Using extremely weak laser pulses, they then fired single photons into the cloud of rubidium atoms.

As the photons enter the cloud of cold atoms, they are captured by the atoms to form an atom-photon hybrid called a Rudberg polariton. The photons travel from atom to atom by doing this until it reaches the edge of the cloud. When these polaritons came across each other, their photons get entangled and when they get out of the gaseous cloud they stuck together to form photonic molecules.

But this isn't new, In 2013 scientists had done the same experiments with blue laser and got photonic molecules, these molecules have 2 photons bound together but this time something new happened. This time the scientists had fired a green laser and got photonic molecules with 3 photons bound together more strongly than the previous experiment. 

It's characteristics and applications:

⏩ Photons are normally massless particles and travel at 299,792,458 meters per second. The  researchers found that the molecules actually acquired a fraction of an electron’s mass. These new form of  light particles were travelling about 100,000 times slower than normal noninteracting photons.

⏩ Scientists could tell how much the photons were oscillating because they were not just bunched up together, instead they were bound like real molecules. Scientists could even tell how strong the bond was, based on the oscillation frequencies of these photonic molecules.

⏩ One of the coolest property of these strange molecules is "Entanglement". Which could be used in quantum computing to carry quantum information. This photonic molecules could lead to future applications in microwave photonic signal processing, optical computing concepts and simulations of complex systems using quantum technology.

⏩ Photonic molecules offer advantages over isolated photonic atoms in a variety of applications, including bio(chemical) sensing, cavity optomechanics,and microlasers, Photonic molecules can also be used as quantum simulators of many-body physics and as building blocks of future optical quantum information processing networks.

Just imagine:

If adding more photons to the molecules or uniting all the molecules Is possible then we can literally create crystals made up of light. We can also made light sabers as shown in the movie star wars. 

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