Quantum devices made from half-light, half-matter

A team of physicists has discovered new properties of specific particles that are composed of half-light and half-matter1. Such particles raise the possibility of making next-generation optoelectronic devices, including quantum devices that will be smarter than existing smart electronic devices.

Known as polaritons, these particles are lighter than electrons by a factor of 0.00001. “These unique particles with ultra-low masses are potentially useful for making polaritonic devices that will not dissipate heat while operating close to room temperature,” says Sajal Dhara, one of the physicists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India.

Light propagates as electromagnetic waves but it also shows properties of particles with zero mass. Matter, on the other hand, is made of atoms that have mass.

It is known that mirror reflects light. When light bounces back and forth and gets trapped in the space between two mirrors, an optical cavity is formed. Exploiting this property of light, Dhara devised an experiment in which laser light was shone on a single layer of atom-thick semiconducting molybdenum diselenide trapped between two mirrors. read more

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