Feeds

Light ties itself in knots - spontaneously

Beautiful physics

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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.” ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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?