Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First light: Researchers develop new way to generate superluminal pulses

Date:
May 3, 2012
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Researchers have developed a novel way of producing light pulses that are "superluminal" -- in some sense they travel faster than the speed of light. The new method could be used to improve the timing of communications signals and to investigate the propagation of quantum correlations.

In four-wave mixing, researchers send "seed" pulses of laser light into a heated cell containing atomic rubidium vapor along with a separate "pump" beam at a different frequency. The vapor amplifies the seed pulse and shifts its peak forward, making it superluminal. At the same time, photons from the inserted beams interact with the vapor to generate a second pulse called the "conjugate." Its peak, too, can travel faster or slower depending on how the laser is tuned and the conditions inside the gain medium.
Credit: NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a novel way of producing light pulses that are "superluminal" -- in some sense they travel faster than the speed of light. The technique, called four-wave mixing, reshapes parts of light pulses and advances them ahead of where they would have been had they been left to travel unaltered through a vacuum. The new method could be used to improve the timing of communications signals and to investigate the propagation of quantum correlations.

Related Articles


According to Einstein's special theory of relativity, light traveling in a vacuum is the universal speed limit. No information can travel faster than light.

But there's kind of a loophole. A short burst of light arrives as a sort of (usually) symmetric curve like a bell curve in statistics. The leading edge of that curve can't exceed the speed of light, but the main hump, the peak of the pulse, can be skewed forward or backward, arriving sooner or later than it normally would.

Recent experiments have generated "uninformed" faster-than-light pulses by amplifying the leading edge of the pulse and attenuating, or cutting off, the back end. The method introduces a great deal of noise with no great increase in the apparent speed. Four-wave mixing produces cleaner, less noisy pulses with a greater increase in speed by "re-phasing" or rearranging the light waves that make up the pulse.

In four-wave mixing, researchers send 200-nanosecond-long "seed" pulses of laser light into a heated cell containing atomic rubidium vapor along with a separate "pump" beam at a different frequency from the seed pulses. The vapor amplifies the seed pulse and shifts its peak forward so that it becomes superluminal. At the same time, photons from the inserted beams interact with the vapor to generate a second pulse, called the "conjugate" because of its mathematical relationship to the seed. Its peak, too, can travel faster or slower depending on how the laser is tuned and the conditions inside the laser.

In the experiment, the pulses' peaks arrived 50 nanoseconds faster than light traveling through a vacuum.

One immediate application that the group would like to explore for this system is quantum discord. Quantum discord mathematically defines the quantum information shared between two correlated systems -- in this case, the seed and conjugate pulses. By performing measurements of quantum discord between fast beams and reference beams, the group hopes to determine how useful this fast light could be for the transmission and processing of quantum information.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ryan Glasser, Ulrich Vogl, Paul Lett. Stimulated Generation of Superluminal Light Pulses via Four-Wave Mixing. Physical Review Letters, 2012; 108 (17) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.173902

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "First light: Researchers develop new way to generate superluminal pulses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503194223.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2012, May 3). First light: Researchers develop new way to generate superluminal pulses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503194223.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "First light: Researchers develop new way to generate superluminal pulses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503194223.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins