Scientists Create Matter From Light. Next Up, Lightsabers?

By Bill Andrews | September 27, 2013 2:20 pm

lightsabers

Brace yourselves: Scientists have created matter made from light. The new form of matter was just a simple molecule, made up of two photons (the particles of light), but — holy crap, they made a molecule out of photons!

This is very cool, but according to the Internet, it also means scientists created lightsabers the other day. Alas, we’re not quite there yet. But for once, it’s not the media’s fault — the Star Wars talk started with Harvard physicist Mikhail Lukin, who said in a press release, “It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers.”

Tripping the Light

What Lukin meant, though, was just that his team of Harvard and MIT physicists had created a form of light that can interact with itself. Normally, photons are massless particles that don’t interact with one another — as anyone who’s tried to recreate lightsaber duels with flashlights (or laser pointers), only to have them pass harmlessly through each other, knows all too well.

crossed beams

To create the long-sought light matter, the team shot two photons into a cloud of rubidium atoms just a few degrees above absolute zero. The two particles came out of the cloud bound together like a regular molecule. As Gizmodo puts it:

In fact, what the scientists were witnessing is known as the Rydberg blockade. This rule states that atoms neighboring an atom that’s been excited—say, by a passing photon—cannot be excited to the same degree as the initial atom. When multiple photons pass through a cloud of atoms, this creates a push-pull force between them, which is what binds the resultant molecule.

While lightsabers may be a long time off, this kind of light manipulation should make quantum computers more efficient and could even lead to the creation of all-light 3-D structures. (So, fans of Star Trek and its holodeck can join in the fun, too.)

And Lukin uses the force for all the right reasons, according to the press release: “We do this for fun, and because we’re pushing the frontiers of science.”

Top image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr/ Middle image by FastLizard4 via Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: matter
  • i_foreplay

    if the mind can conceive it can be ACHIEVED…..

  • Brandon O’Bryant

    Actually puts me more in mind on the GN particles that were central to the Gundam 00 series. Granted it took 200 years working in Jupiter’s gravity field to create four devices that could create the particles and they broke down over time but still.

    • hirschmead321

      my Aunty Lucy got an almost new BMW 3 Series Sedan only from part-time off a computer. helpful resources w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

    • hirschmead321

      as Laura responded I’m blown away that anyone can make $7577 in 4 weeks on the computer. look these up w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • fake

    Anime lol

  • Conner

    can you buy this

    • Brandon O’Bryant

      umm… you technically could buy the materials to do so but your looking at a small fortune, not to mention the special training that you’d want to be able to to it safely, cooling something to nearly absolute zero is not easy, After all your looking at -273.15C/
      −459.67F temperatures you don’t even find naturally in space.

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