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First Photo Of Light In Both Wave And Particle Forms

Light is a wave and a particle. Scientists photographed light as a wave and a particle for the first time.


Einstein first predicted it in 1909 the dual nature of light, but no experiment has been able to show it in both states at same time.

Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland have taken the first photograph of light as both a wave and a particle.

The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The first ever snapshot of light as both wave and particle is taken by Fabrizio Carbone’s lab at EPFL (LUMES).

Fabrizio Carbone, explains:

“This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics – and its paradoxical nature – directly. Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing.”

The experiment is set up like this: A pulse of laser light is fired at a tiny metallic nanowire. The laser adds energy to the charged particles in the nanowire, causing them to vibrate. Light travels along this tiny wire in two possible directions, like cars on a highway. When waves traveling in opposite directions meet each other they form a new wave that looks like it is standing in place. Here, this standing wave becomes the source of light for the experiment, radiating around the nanowire.

This is where the experiment’s trick comes in: The scientists shot a stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light. As the electrons interacted with the confined light on the nanowire, they either sped up or slowed down. Using the ultrafast microscope to image the position where this change in speed occurred, Carbone’s team could now visualize the standing wave, which acts as a fingerprint of the wave-nature of light.

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