From Newton’s theory light is a particle, to Maxwell’s proof light as a wave, what is light? This question has amused scientists for decades. And now, scientists have achieved a new characteristic of this thing, the liquid light.
How can this be possible? How can light behave as a liquid?
What the physicists actually did in June 2017 is that they used a matter called Superfluid. Having the zero viscosity and friction, this is as well as a kind of Bose-Einstein condensate.
The Bose-Einstein condensate is referred as the fifth state of matter, boson’s diluted gas cooled to near absolute zero. This state of matter is a very interesting thing as rules switch from classical to quantum physics. Existing for just a fraction of seconds, the matter begins taking more wave-like properties. And using Frankenstein mashup of light and matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate was created.
Making Polaritons involved some major equipment and nanoscale engineering. The lead researcher from the CNR NANOTEC Institute of Nanotechnology in Italy, Daniele Sanvitto said, “The extraordinary observation in our work is that we have demonstrated that Superfluidity can also occur at room temperature, under ambient conditions, using light-matter particles called Polaritons.”
Sandwiching a 130-nanometer thick layer of organic molecules between ultra reflective mirrors, scientists blasted it using a 35 Femtoseconds laser pulse. A Femtosecond is a quadrillion of a second.
Stephane Kena Cohen from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada said, “In this way, we can combine the properties of photons, such as their light effective mass and fast velocity with strong interpretations due to the elections within the molecules.”
When liquid flows under normal condition, it ripples and swirls. But like the wave-like disturbances in the case of Superfluid. Stephane said, “In a Superfluid, this turbulence is suppressed around obstacles, causing the flow to continue on its way, unaltered.”
These results not just pave the new studies of quantum hydrodynamics as well as to room temperature Polaritons devices for advanced technologies of the future. The fact that such an effect is observed under ambient conditions can spark an enormous study fundamental phenomenon related to Bose-Einstein condensate, but also to receive and design future photonic Superfluid-based devices where losses are completely suppressed and new unexpected phenomena can be exploited.