Printer Friendly

Catching microwaves in a random trap.

Two physicists have managed to trap individual photons of microwave radiation inside a copper tube containing a jumble of aluminum spheres. This result marks the first observation of "photon localization in a random three-dimensional sample," say Azriel Z. Genack and Narciso Garcia of Queens College of the City University of New York in Flushing.

The researchers studied the effect by sending microwaves at a frequency between 18.5 and 19.5 megahertz down the length of a 7.3-centimeter-wide copper tube partially filled with aluminum and Teflon balls roughly the size of unpopped popcorn kernels. Two detectors situated 2.5 centimeters apart at one end of the copper tube recorded the intensity of the emerging beam. Close scrutiny of the intensity measurements, made by the pair of detectors as the tube rotates, reveals remarkable fluctuations, which can be interpreted as evidence of photon trapping. These "localized" photons behave as if they were particles caught for long periods of time at particular sites among the metal spheres. However, this trapping occurs only for a narrow range of microwave frequencies and certain concentrations of aluminum balls.

The precise mechanism responsible for causing the trapping remains unknown. "The results of Genack and Garcia should hasten us towards understanding the physics of waves in disordered media," concludes physicist J.B. Pendry of Imperial College in London, England, in a commentary in the June 6 NATURE. Genack and Garcia originally reported their results in the Apr. 22 PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:individual photons of microwave radiation trapped for the first time
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 27, 1991
Previous Article:Pick a sample: learning statistics - minus the frustrations.
Next Article:Shaking up powder physics.

Related Articles
Single-photon interference seen.
Catching a light ride on a plasma wave.
Shining a bright light on quantum darkness.
Trapping cold atoms in microwave webs.
Flipping a quantum mechanical coin.
Photon-in-a-box slings atom into orbit.
Light stands still in atom clouds.
NIST Develops a new generation of frequency and time standards. (News Briefs).
Invisibility ring.
Microbial inactivation by microwave radiation in the home environment.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters