12.29.09 7 years ago 5 Comments

Scientists in The Netherlands took a break from the usual bender of legal drugs and prostitution and superb healthcare to make a breakthrough in controlling the magnetic field of light using metamaterials.  Conventional materials only manipulate the electrical field of light while having little to no effect on the magnetic field, as the atoms at high frequencies (500 billion vibrations per second) would require an equally strong electromagnet.  And these researchers made one:

The artificial ‘meta-materials’ studied by the researchers consist of very small U-shaped metal ‘nano-rings’. The electromagnetic field of light drives charges back and forth, thereby inducing an alternating current in each U shape. The tiny opening at the top of the ring makes sure that the current zooms around at the frequencies of light. In this way, each ring becomes a small but strong electromagnet, with its north and south poles alternating 500 billion times per second. [PsyOrg]

Not only did the electromagnet keep pace with the vibration of light, but, when actuated by light, the magnets can also influence and power one another.  The article goes on to say: “This improved understanding of the nano-magnets and their interaction with light gives the researchers all the ingredients they need to disperse light along arbitrary paths.”  Yeah, I’m going to need you to disperse this light along an arbitrary path directly around me while I break into Matthew Bomer’s house.  Uh, for science.

[Nano-magnet graphic via via NextBigFuture]

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