10:56 02 October 2013
Previously, scientists believed that photons are massless particles that do not interact with each other and that the creation of molecules using them is just simply impossible. However, physicists managed to create molecules by binding photons together. The discovery is startling and is described as “pushing the frontiers of science.”
In a press release published at phys.org., Harvard Professor of Physica Mikhail Lukin said: "Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless, and that they do not interact with each other.
"What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules.”
Making reference to the classic George Lucas science fiction franchise Star Wars which saw epic duels between opponents brandishing swords with blades of light, Lukin continued: “It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers. When these photons interact with each other, they're pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”
He added: "It's a photonic interaction that's mediated by the atomic interaction. That makes these two photons behave like a molecule, and when they exit the medium they're much more likely to do so together than as single photons."
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