A Freeway for Light: Topology Protects Lasers from Defects

If you want to admire the beauty behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics – topological phases of matter, take a course in topology, followed by graduate-level solid state physics. But if you ask for a concrete application of this topic, you now have an excellent example. Harnessing the concept of topology, scientists have engineered a new way to channel light in lasers. Originally a … Continue reading A Freeway for Light: Topology Protects Lasers from Defects

Help me “photophoretic-trap volumetric displays.” You’re our only hope.

Anyone who has seen Star Wars envisions the future of visual displays as “holograms,” where 3D objects materialize out of light in thin air. However, anyone who has looked at a true hologram will likely have been disappointed at the reality.  Not only does the image not pop out in its full glorious 3-dimensions in front of you, but the object is typically only visible … Continue reading Help me “photophoretic-trap volumetric displays.” You’re our only hope.

Black Hole Burps: Particle Absorption and Emission in Supermassive Black Holes

Black holes are fascinating objects to study because we can use them to learn more about about astronomy, cosmology, and gravity. Black holes are super-massive and super-dense objects in the universe. Because of these properties, they produce strong gravitational and electromagnetic forces that suck nearby objects in. After ‘eating’ all this extraneous matter, the black hole has energy to spare and then ‘burps’, emitting high-energy … Continue reading Black Hole Burps: Particle Absorption and Emission in Supermassive Black Holes

It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

In a rainbow, the shortest visible wavelength of light is approximately 400nm (blue) and the longest 700nm (red), where all others colors outside this range are invisible to humans.
Except not quite. Artal et. al. demonstrate that the eye’s visual acuity for infrared light (1000nm), is almost the same as for visible green light. The exploited effect in the eye converts two-invisible photons into a single visible one. Importantly, this demonstrated sensitivity to infrared light could enable future ophthalmic devices to help patients with eye conditions, such as cataracts, that make them opaque to visible light. Continue reading It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

Performing a 51 qubit computation

Qubits, the quantum analog of a digital bit, are envisioned as the building blocks of the future of computation. The quantum bit is special because of its ability to be in simultaneous values of 0 and 1, while digital bits can only be a 0 or a 1, not both. The calculations of quantum problem become exponentially more difficult as larger qubit computations are required: … Continue reading Performing a 51 qubit computation

Expanding the genetic alphabet

Since the beginning of time, the genetic alphabet in all living things has consisted of 4 letters. Now, scientists have discovered a way to expand the genetic code to store and use orders of magnitude more information than ever before. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the cellular instructions for proteins: little machines in your cells that perform important functions. DNA normally contains 4 nucleotides (A, T, … Continue reading Expanding the genetic alphabet

Particle Physics Revolutionizes Archaeology

How many mysteries are buried within Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza? Whatever the answer, we know of one more. Scientists recently discovered an unknown void in the heart of the pyramid. Over the past centuries, archaeologists have unveiled many features of the pyramid’s interior. If you get a tour today, you can venture along its Grand Gallery, into the king’s chamber, and touch the 4,500-year-old walls … Continue reading Particle Physics Revolutionizes Archaeology