Physicists Engineered Lightest Optical Mirror

Published by F.A. Malik on

The physicists at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPIQO) have successfully devised an optical mirror. This mirror contains only a single layer of identical atoms. These identical atoms arranged in a 2-D array of the optical lattice due to the interference of laser beams. Even the human eye can see the reflection from this mirror. The team at MPIQO has shown that only a single layer of a few hundred atoms is enough to make a lighter and imaginable mirror. This mirror is only several tens of nanometers in thickness. The diameter of the mirror is about 7 microns.

Working Mechanism

The identical atoms of meta-material are arranged in a 2-D array, ordered in a regular pattern with sub-wavelength spacing (i.e., less space even than optical transition wavelength of particles). These two properties are the main working principle behind this optical mirror. Meta-materials are unnatural materials that contain rare properties when designed with specific structures. The regular pattern order and less spacing overpower the scatter light impelling the reflection to flow uni-directional with a steady light beam. Due to the closeness between atoms, a photon bounces back and forth many times. These two effects of suppressing scatter light and photons bouncing lead to improved and robust reflection from the mirror.

Research Paper Details

The details of the paper published are:

“A subradiant optical mirror formed by a single structured atomic layer” by Jun Rui, David Wei, Antonio Rubio-Abadal, Simon Hollerith, Johannes Zeiher, Dan M. Stamper-Kurn, Christian Gross and Immanuel Bloch, 15 July 2020, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2463-x

First Author Comments

The first author and researcher, Jun Rui, while sharing his views about the finding, said:

“The results are fascinating for us. As in typical dilute bulk ensembles, photon-mediated correlations between atoms, which play a vital role in our system, are typically neglected in traditional quantum optics theories. On the other hand, ordered arrays of atoms made by loading ultracold atoms into optical lattices mainly exploited to study quantum simulations of condensed matter models. But it now turns out to be a powerful platform to study the new quantum optical phenomena.”

This research has opened a gateway that may lead to more deepen understandings in the field of quantum optics and light-matter interactions. The quantum optics and quantum physics are fundamentally important fields whose knowledge will lead us to more advancements. This emerging field will grow soon, and researches like this mirror prove how much this field has to offer.


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