Harvard physics professor Mikhail Lukin says: “It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers. When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”
There’s no word on whether scientists have tried to use the technology to battle it out in the labs, but the downright-boring scientific language suggests that we’re still a few years off. Published in Nature Magazine, the potentially nerd-climaxing findings are presented in the unsexiest language ever:
Here we demonstrate a quantum nonlinear medium inside which individual photons travel as massive particles with strong mutual attraction, such that the propagation of photon pairs is dominated by a two-photon bound state. We achieve this through dispersive coupling of light to strongly interacting atoms in highly excited Rydberg states. We measure the dynamical evolution of the two-photon wavefunction using time-resolved quantum state tomography, and demonstrate a conditional phase shift8 exceeding one radian, resulting in polarization-entangled photon pairs.
Right? I told you. I’m sure there’s at least one guy out there beside himself reading the last paragraph. But for the rest of us, we’re gonna have to wait a little longer to duke it out Star Wars style.