Light ties itself in knots - spontaneously

Beautiful physics

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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.” ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story


Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.