Feeds

Light ties itself in knots - spontaneously

Beautiful physics

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

It’s not only possible to get light to tie itself in knots: given the right conditions, it will do so spontaneously, according to a paper published last week in Nature.

El Reg has no possible hope of fully understanding this paper (published in full, an emerging trend we welcome), but one really interesting idea is right there in the abstract:

“We anticipate similar spontaneous knot topology to be a universal feature of waves whose phase front is twisted and nonlinearly modulated, including superfluids and trapped matter waves.” [Emphasis added]

In other words, this research has the potential to be replicated not only to create “knotted waves” of light, but of waves in more tangible stuff.

The superposition Spirograph: different modes of

the knotted soliton. Source: Nature

“Knotted light” is already feature of research into things like optical tweezers and quantum computing. However, according to ANU researcher Dr Anton Desyatnikov, previous demonstrations have been painstakingly hand-made using carefully-engineered lasers.

“[W]hat we’ve been working on are models in which the knots spontaneously form on their own”, he said. “Apart from their curiosity value, what’s really interesting and useful about these knots of darkness is that they show you what the power flow is doing.”

“Our models suggest that you have to get the key parameters of the light in a certain range before you can easily tie the light in knots but once you do, the knots are virtually guaranteed … we can’t predict exactly where they will form. Just that under these specific circumstances the optical vortices will spontaneously nucleate and tie themselves into little knots.” ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.