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Mastering Light

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the heel dept.

Science 421

thyristor writes "'Researchers at MIT document the ultimate control over light: a way to shift the frequency of light beams to any desired colour, with near 100 per cent efficiency. This technology could revolutionise a range of fields, from turning heat into light, or even into prized terahertz rays - which hold great promise for medical imaging. It could also make it possible to focus a wide range of frequencies into a narrow band, make devices such as light bulbs and solar cells more efficient, and help to keep optical telecommunications networks moving.' These are probably the most exciting results in photonics in the last decade."

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Master FP! (-1, Offtopic)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014435)

I have! Light my way...

A quick glance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014436)

makes the heading look like "Masturbating Right".

Skimpy article. (2, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014437)

Will someone else shed more light into the matter???

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Riallin (164919) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014438)


Re:first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014449)

first post! (Score:0, Offtopic)
by Riallin (164919) on Thursday May 22, @08:08AM (#6014438)

How's it feel to be a llama?

*cough* (-1, Offtopic)

Riallin (164919) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014452)

;) boredom creates intimacy with stupidity...

I can't wait... (4, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014441)

for the next-generation laser pointers!

Re:I can't wait... (5, Funny)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014456)

stop making light of real progress

Re:I can't wait... (4, Funny)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014615)

Stop please, that joke really Hertz!

[sound of tumbleweed]

I'll get my coat.

Re:I can't wait... (5, Funny)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014623)

It's not the joke, it's the frequency of them.

Can anyone say cloaking devices ? (5, Interesting)

Walts (671707) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014560)

Well, with such a frequency translator, we can all imagine all the goodies and baddies that can be made with it. One of them is a cloaking devices, efficient power sources, phase weapons...
Imagine changing harmless light from light bulbs into a focused gamma rays or worse !

Re:I can't wait... (2, Insightful)

daerhu (70842) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014658)

laser pointers? hell, i can't wait for the next-generation light sabers!

whoa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014444)

Should make for more efficient floyd shows..

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014448)

nuff said

Re:wow (-1, Redundant)

mofolotopo (458966) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014588)

I second that "wow".

Remember when... (0)

emo boy (586277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014453)

FLASHLIGHTS were cool?!?!?

See outside the bubble? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014457)

So, with this, could we look at Ultraviolet radiation with the naked eye (through a converter)? That would be cool!
Being able to see infrared radiation would help a lot for playing hide and seek in the dark :).

Re:See outside the bubble? (2, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014513)

have you ever looked through a Hoya R72 infrared filter, or a B+W 58ES 403 ultraviolet-transmitting filter?

Re:See outside the bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014553)

no, why?

do they reemit the light at lower frequencies? or?

Re:See outside the bubble? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014649)

I'm not an expert on light frequencies, but those are photography filters, and when you look through the IR filter for example, you see everything in dark red, except that the surfaces which reflect IR are brighter. The eye cannot see pure IR, but it can perceive the near-infrared. Looks cool in any case. Same for the UVX filter, except you see more colors, ie flowers almost glow in contrast with the rest of the scenery.

Re:See outside the bubble? (1)

ZigMonty (524212) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014608)

If you're looking through a converter then you're not looking with the naked eye.

hot Sex0r!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014458)

Asuka was staying out at Hikari's place tonight, so it was the perfect time to put my plan in
motion. Kaji-kun had got me the stuff. He didn't ask me what I needed it for.

Misato always bugged me to go to the fridge and get her more beer. I took the opportunity to
drop the small white tablet in the top of the can when I opened it in the kitchen. The dumb
slut downed it in one as she always did. She had thanked me and called me "Shinji-chan". I'd
show her just how much of a 'little Shinji' I was tonight.

The rohypnol was really fast to work. Misato complained of having a headache then she was
fast asleep draped over the couch, her bathrobe falling open and revealing one of her big,
bouncy tits. I got a hard-on straight away.

I grabbed her by the arms, dragged her into her bedroom and dumped her on the bed. God
damn, she looked fucking gorgeous when she was unconscious. Striping off, I grabbed her
long purple hair and began to play with it, rubbing it on my 12 inch cock and raping it around.
I nearly cummed straight away.

I pulled her bathrobe open and exposed her massive F cup tits. Even though they were big
they stuck straight up in the air. I grabbed hold of them and felt how big and soft they were.
Lying next to her I spent about half an hour kneading her tits. Even though Misato was out
cold, she began to moan in excitement. This was the first time I'd ever touched a womans
body and I was as hard as steel.

I took her long fat nipple into my mouth and began to suck it. Misato groaned. I got a
pleasant surprise when warm sweet milk flooded into my mouth. So that explains why her tits
were so big. I suckled her and suckled her, wanting to get every drop from both breasts,
twisting at biting at her nipples to make them flow more as I was getting more and more
excited until I ended up shooting my load all over her smooth tummy.

I scooped up my hot white jizz with my fingers and held it to Misato's mouth. She started
sucking all off. It was true - she was a total slut.

I looked at her pussy. It was smooth and shaved. I could smell her excitement from what I
had done before. I spread her legs and slid 2 fingers into her cunt. She was good and wet. I
licked her cum from my fingers, she tasted great.

My cock hadn't even gone down a single bit from before, so I used it to impale her cunt. I slid
it in right up to the end. Misato arced her back and moaned again and again. Her inner
muscles squeezed me and I began to fuck her as hard as I could.

"Misato, you fucking slut. You like being raped by me, don't you? Don't you?" she started to
orgasm as I fucked her so hard that her pussy began to bleed and her juice squirted out of

I was in heaven. She'd led me on so much, now here I was, fucking her brains out and she
couldn't do anything about it. I screamed as I cummed, dumping one of my biggest wads of
jizz into the depths of her cunt, filling her womb and making it squirt out of her. as I did so I
squeezed her tits as hard as I could causing milk to spurt into the air.

I wiped my dick clean on her hair making sure I let some cum drip on her face. Just to think, I
could fuck the head of NERV operations whenever I wanted and she would not be able to stop
me. She wouldn't even know who had raped her. she wouldn't think it was me, Shinji-chan.
She might even get pregnant too cause there was no way that I was going to wear a condom.

I still had a whole bag of rohypnol left, so there was lots more fun to be had. I thought that I
might take her up the ass next time. Asuka better be careful how she talks to me too.

As I went off to my bed and left her asleep on hers, Pen Pen watched me leave. He looked
very happy and there was some blood on his feathers from when he had had a nosebleed. I
wonder if he would like to join in fucking Misato next time?

Re:hot Sex0r!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014516)

What the fuck? Fucking moderators, that was a good goddamn story. Bunch of fucking Star Wars geeks. Linux faggots. Beowulf Clusterfuckers. I'm sick of this fascistic moderation system. Fuck you assholes.

Re:hot Sex0r!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014540)

Whether the story is good or not isn't the issue. If you don't like how the system is moderated then its entirely your option to fuck off. I'm sure most here would appreciate such a wise choice on your behalf.

Re:hot Sex0r!! (-1, Offtopic)

NeuroGrrrl (673087) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014564)

Nothing like a poorly written rape fantasy about the head of NERV operations. When people write things like this and explicitly mention the measurement of their member, how do they fail to realize that we all know they are over-compensating?


Re:hot Sex0r!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014640)

Well it turned me on. The thought of a guy drugging and then raping me is .. enchanting!

question (0, Interesting)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014459)

How long until we have lightsabers?

But honestly, do they have the ability to actually shift the light, almost like a curve effect to the beam. Cause I know not too long ago /. had an article about lazer rifers for the U.S. Military, would they be able to actually curve the beams around objects and such?

Re:question (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014575)

No, you need gravity for that....
They are shifting the frequency (the color) of light not its path.


Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014628)


Amplification (by)
Emissions (of)

What is it with Americans and using Zs.

As a side point is was going to be Light Oscillation by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation, but it was felt that it would be rather hard to get big business backing for this product...

Rather skimpy article. (1, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014461)

Can someone in the audience shed more light into the matter?

Re:Rather skimpy article. (3, Funny)

mblase (200735) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014500)

Can someone in the audience shed more light into the matter?

No doubt it'll become more transparent as Slashdot editors repost it with increasing frequency.

Re:Rather skimpy article. (5, Informative)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014646)

Right now you can buy AOTF cristals. It is a bit similar, but works as a filter (Acousto Optic Tunable Filter). What it does is bend off one specific wavelength of light based on which ultrasound you beam through it. By sandwiching a AOTF crystal between a piezzo and an absorber, you get a filter which you can control with a waveform generator. Brimrose will sell you a spectrometer that can scan 16,000 wavelengths per second for a ridiculously cheap 100,000$. Downturn is it throws all other wavelengths out meaning you still need a 35 Watt halogen lightsource to measure anything. If you could "recuperate" or shift the other wavelengths then you could use LED's as a light source and have a completely solid-state spectrometer with > 30000 H MTBF. You would use less power, produce less heat, make it smaller, send it to Mars,....

Summary Of Technique (3, Funny)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014464)

Playing pong with lightwaves.

Does that mean... (0)

locknloll (638243) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014467)

...that we will soon be able to buy real, lethal Star Wars light swords, too? Then I should dust off my EVIL EMPEROR SUIT and practice the EVIL EMPEROR LAUGHTER a bit more! Muhahahahahaha...

For how long? (4, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014468)

Reading the article it seems that the light frequency is altered for only a short time, the time during which the shock wave passes through the crystal. So I don't think it's some magic filter where you can shine a green light in one end and get red light out the other. In the long term the number of peaks and troughs you put in at one end must equal the number seen at the other, so you can't consistently alter the frequency of a light beam in this way.

IANAP, anyone care to provide more detail than seen in the article? Will the planned demonstration of the work give results observable to the human eye?

Re:For how long? (1)

Llurien (658850) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014514)

Yes, the way I understand it, it will give observable results. The way it seems to work is they bounce light back and forth inside the crystal. This changes the frequency of the beam through interaction with the shock waves (strong vibration). If they manufacture the crystal so as to allow only green light to come out, they could send in for example red light, and at the point where it is shifted enough to become green, it can then escape from the crystal.

Re:For how long? (2, Interesting)

Becquerel (645675) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014530)

The magic filter is exactly what the article suggests, but I can't see how it works.

It seems to suggest that "Because the shock wave is moving through the crystal, the light gets Doppler shifted each time it bounces off it" But surely it gets shifted up when it hits the approaching wave and down again when it hits the retreating one. It would have to continously bounce off approaching or retreating waves in order to get shifted up or down. Maybe they use some kind of concentric shockwaves, but even then it would have to pass through retreating waves unaffected in order to hit another approaching one.

I also can't get my head round how you would shift the frequency without moving the source at near to the speed of light. Anyone got any ideas?

Re:For how long? (4, Interesting)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014594)

The trick is to let it bounce of a shock wave, not a continous wave. You simple let the light escape when it has the right frequency. As long as its gone while the shockwave is still going in one direction it will work.


Mod this idiot down! (1)

hammy (22980) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014537)

How does this score +5!?!!?

If you read the article you'd see that the light indeed emerges from the crystal at the new frequency. How could it make light bulbs more efficent or produce tetrahertz radiation for use in medical diagnostics if the light didn't emerge with a different frequency?

It was a valid question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014633)

Certainly as good as most others, and it provided some good responses. What more do you want?

Re:For how long? (5, Interesting)

IsaacW (543020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014562)

The article states that shifting red light up in frequency to blue light takes about 10,000 reflections (about 0.1 nanoseconds). I think that you could shift a pulsed light source in this manner:
  1. Generate low-frequency (LF) pulse travelling into crystal.
  2. Apply shock wave to turn crystal into frequency shifter.
  3. Wait until LF pulse is shifted to higher frequency and emitted from crystal.
  4. Allow time for crystal to relax to original properties by allowing the shock wave to dissipate.
  5. Repeat for as long as necessary/desired.
Now, this may or may not create any really usable stream of pulses, but I believe that you would be able to shine a (pulsed) red light in and get a (pulsed) blue light out. Whether the pulsing could be controlled sufficiently to prove useful in optical switching or other applications is yet to be shown.

As for the number of wavecycles being equal, I wonder if this is already observed. It would make sense (if the number of wavecycles is conserved) that the resulting higher frequency pulse would be shorter in duration than the incoming lower frequency pulse, due to the relation among the speed of light/frequency of light/duration of pulse.

Re:For how long? (3, Interesting)

Polaris (9232) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014566)

Reading the article it seems that the light frequency is altered for only a short time, the time during which the shock wave passes through the crystal
No, the shock wave passing through the crystal causes the "hall of mirrors" effect with a moving mirror (the compressed/uncompressed interface) which produces a Doppler shift.

So I don't think it's some magic filter where you can shine a green light in one end and get red light out the other
That's exactly what it is.

In the long term the number of peaks and troughs you put in at one end must equal the number seen at the other, so you can't consistently alter the frequency of a light beam in this way.
Number is not frequency: you could still see the same number at a lower or higher frequency, the total observation would just take a longer or shorter time. The red shift of the light of galaxies apparently receding from us at a high fraction of c is a consistent feature, caused by exactly the same Doppler effect.

Re:For how long? (1)

Domini (103836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014582)

Unless you have pulsed light input which is in sync with the shock wave passing through the crystal?

Since most light sources are periodic (pulses). (Tubes/TVs/Monitors/Plasma Displays/fluorescent), perhaps there is (some) posibility this could be applied.

Like many great discoveries, we do not fully see the benifits immediately.

Re:For how long? (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014654)

Yes you could have pulsed light I imagine. But as I said this is only 'for a short time' (the duration of one pulse). And if the output frequency is higher than the input frequency, the output pulses would be shorter.

Re:For how long? (5, Interesting)

aug24 (38229) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014593)

IANAP, but I am a Physics grad, so...

Reading the article it seems that the light frequency is altered for only a short time, the time during which the shock wave passes through the crystal.

So you put through another shock wave and another and another and another...

You will get the same number of peaks and troughs out, but those that have bounced back and forth a bit (and thus got Doppler shifted) will come out later, having travelled further, and shifted. This technique stretches the light pulse.

So, (asciiart time!) you could put in pulses of green and get out continuous red:

gggg gggg gggg gggg

[View it in a fixed-width font, it'll make sense I promise]

Each green pulse g has been stretched by the shockwave sent at each S and turned to red light r, filling the time for pulse + gap.


Doesn't matter, it's more than long enough (4, Interesting)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014604)

the light frequency is altered for only a short time

The "short time" doesn't really matter, and furthermore looking at a "light beam" as an end-to-end continuous sine wave that you stretch and compress doesn't really help here ...

Photons last forever (well, until absorbed etc). Once one has escaped from the reflection zone between shockwave fronts, it doesn't wither and die, it's permanently changed to do our beckoning. The fact that its "home of origin" has since moved on isn't really of any further concern. (And notice the difference in velocities between light and shock wavefronts, ie. hare and tortoise, so from the photon's point of view the generator is pretty static.)

Complaining that the shockwave fronts are transitory is like complaining that the metastable states in lasers are, er ... metastable. :-) It doesn't matter, the point is that the wavefronts are recreated continuously, and with sound that doesn't seem all that hard.

hmm (0)

Riallin (164919) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014470)

finally I won't have to keep changing these lightbulbs all around the house. Plus I can have funky colors :D

Michael Jackson (4, Funny)

Blaster Jaack (536777) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014474)

Researchers at MIT document the ultimate control over light: a way to shift the frequency of light beams to any desired colour, with near 100 per cent efficiency. This technology could revolutionise a range of fields, from turning heat into light, or even into prized terahertz rays

One of the first uses of this would be to make Michael Jackson even more white.

Re:Michael Jackson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014549)

Any more than this [] and that? []

unexpected? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014475)

But when Joannopoulos and his colleagues Evan Reed and Marin Soljacic investigated what happens when shock waves pass through a device called a photonic crystal, they discovered a completely unexpected effect.

Yay for guess and check!

Re:unexpected? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014547)

This happens quite a bit in science. The Blue LED only because practical because someone made a dopant mixture that the classical formulas said would produce a completely different wavelength. Something about the way that the spaces formed lead to a high intensity blue led that could match the output of nearly the top green and red led's, making white and fullspectrum output possible.

Star Trek has been completed! (3, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014477)

Ok, now, can we control the "shift" from software? which a real explaination for how StarTrek does those "lets generate a xMhz pulse" sorts of things... sending hailing signals over arbitrary frequencies. (like if you had an array of these devices tuned to different freq.). Also, (boy the nerd in me loves this), it generates ideas for reception.. tuning all sorts of frequencies into a standard freq (like for SETI searches....)... wow, neat idea folks.

Innovative group (5, Informative)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014479)

Joannopolous was also involved in the development of the "perfect" dielectric mirror, which was mentioned here [] before.

Heat - energy (4, Interesting)

sonofagunn (659927) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014483)

If they could shift heat waves -> light waves, then absorb those with photovoltaic cells, we could harness lots of wasted energy. Almost everything generates wasted heat energy, and isn't heat energy basically the same thing as light waves, just at a different frequency?

Re:Heat - energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014543)

In basic terms, heat is the amount of atomic/molecular motion within a given blob of matter, and radiation (light) is just one way that hot things give up their energy to their surroundings. Things that are warm radiate strongly in the infrared part of the spectrum, which we *feel* as heat because our skin absorbs it, but is not actually heat as per the definition. Radiation is not a particularly efficient way to get rid of energy - white dwarf stars stay incredibly hot for millions of years even though they do not produce energy because radiation is their only means of losing their heat.

Re:Heat - energy (4, Informative)

FamousLongAgo (257744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014603)

Uh, what exactly is a 'heat wave'?

Heat comes in two flavors - radiated light waves and random molecular motion. The second kind is irrelevant to this discussion. As far as the first kind goes, you can't magically make that radiated light have more energy by converting it up to a higher frequency.

The laws of conversation of energy and thermodynamics would like to have a little word with you out back...

Re:Heat - energy (1)

sonofagunn (659927) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014621)

Well, when I said heat waves (in a discussion about light) what do you think I was talking about?

Radiated light waves obviously.

And I never stated you'd get more energy than you started with - just that you'd get to "reuse" some wasted energy.

Because it's MIT people listen... (-1, Troll)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014488)

MIT is the "establishment". It even lives by an acronym. I'd rather some nobody not operating within an establishment invent something than MIT over and over. What is MIT anyway? A single fusion bomb could probably take it out. Will people care about MIT in 64 years? Hopefully not. Hopefully it will be gone and we won't have any more establishments.

embellish (1)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014502)

MIT is a school, and thus very caught up in ego. Why can't research be disconnected from learning centers? Schools are caught up in the lie that going there makes you special. Read the damn book and you are just as well off.

All one frequency? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014489)

I call it a "laser"....

dilithium anyone? (1)

jpnews (647965) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014490)

The description in the article reminds me of the fictional workings of the Enterprise warp core.

"Captain, I think we can modulate the dilithium crystal resonance and redirect the warp increase to the forward sensor array!"

In other words, it sounds brilliant without actually making any sense.

Who else imagines... (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014492)

Wireless electricity ?

Re:Who else imagines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014627)

You and me both...

-- N. Tesla

GITS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014493)

Does this mean we are one step closer to having full optic camo like ghost in the shell?

Invisibility possible now? (3, Interesting)

kristoferkarlsson (621051) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014496)

So, does this mean we can make ourselves invisible? If we would make a suit of frequency shifters we could make the visible light turn into radio waves, let them pass through the body, and then change them back into visible light. Of course, it would require huge amounts of energy aswell as precision, so it probablly won't happen anytime soon. Interesting thought, though.

Re:Invisibility possible now? (1)

NeuroGrrrl (673087) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014524)

Not to mention that the (constant?) shock waves required to generate this miracle of frequency shift might be a wee bit uncomfortable to endure bodily.


Re:Invisibility possible now? (1)

untaken_name (660789) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014598)

Not to mention that the (constant?) shock waves required to generate this miracle of frequency shift might be a wee bit uncomfortable to endure bodily.

True, but shift the idea toward say, a layer of these things coating a jet....or a bomber....
you could fairly easily (with the Pentagon's budget) insulate the pilots from the shockwaves, or just fly the plane remotely. Alternatively, just covering missiles with this stuff would probably work too. It'd be expensive to blow them up, but that hasn't stopped 'em from making Tomahawks and bunker-busters.

To me, it's just like almost any science: you can use it in applications both beneficial and harmful. Even anti-disease research was hijacked by various governments to make better biological weapons. I really hope that this tech (should it develop practical applications and find a market niche) will be used wisely. However, humanity's track record causes me to expect the worst, even while I hope for the best.

Re:Invisibility possible now? (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014638)

Can the crystals tell the difference between the light wave coming from the sun|other light source and the radio waves coming from the inside of the jet?

Re:Invisibility possible now? (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014600)

I guess it all depends on exactly where on the body they are generated.

Re:Invisibility possible now? (2, Interesting)

aug24 (38229) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014626)

What an excellent thought!

The difficulty would be to get the shock waves going in the direction of light for all directions or light!

That doesn't mean it can't/won't be managed though.


I can imagine (2, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014498)

An optical router. An incredible array of lenses and lasers and "light controllers". It would take up an entire room and be a dust free vacuum. It would be so awesome, not to mention cool looking.

DJs! (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014499)

This would actually be pretty cool for the average DJ or night club, since traditional filters are so inefficient, and thus cause you to use higher wattage light, and more heat (and more AC to deal with it). This could make club lighting more attractive, more sophisticated and more varied.

After all, if science can't help drunk/horny/single people get laid, what good is it? :-)

Re:DJs! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014652)

Shut up, you piece of 'techie' scum. Go hang yourself with your XLR cables.

Now when I put on my photonic crystal flame suit.. (1)

onthefenceman (640213) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014518)

...all those burning posts sent my way will just give me a nice tan!

x-ray glasses next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014531)

can x-ray glasses be far behind?

new technique for displays? (5, Insightful)

EddWo (180780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014535)

I flat panel displays will no longer need separate reg, green and blue pixels. They could just have uniform pixels which could produce light in any shade required. Should be good for higher resolution displays, greater colour depth. But might mess up things like sub pixel rendering.

Re:new technique for displays? (5, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014648)

Uhm, it wouldn't mess up anything. A 1280*1024 colourdisplay is essentially a 3840*1024 "monochrome"-display (each R,G,B being separate elements). If you wouldn't need separate elements, you'd have a true 3840*1024 colour display, which would be vastly superiour to sub pixel rendering .. :)

Photonic Condensator? (2, Insightful)

stiller (451878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014536)

The researchers worked out that if a photonic crystal is designed in a certain way, incoming light can get trapped at the shock wave boundary, bouncing back and forth between the compressed part of the crystal and the uncompressed part, in a "hall of mirrors" effect.

Could this be the starting point for some sort of photonic condensator? Maybe, this could in turn be used for building a volatile photonic memory system?
That would mean a great leap in photo-electronic computer systems, since normally, a lot of the speedup from using optics in systems is lost due to slow(er) memory. But maybe the quality of the signal degrades too fast to be usable, afterall 0.1 nanosecond is hardly usable in most cases. Maybe somebody knows more about photo-electonics to figure this one out?

The technology smashes the crystal (5, Informative)

HidingMyName (669183) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014550)

The approach is destructive of the crystal used for filtering the light, although they hope to be able to use sound waves in the future. Due to the distorion of the crystal lattice structure required, even sound waves may wind up breaking the crystal (remember the old memorex commercials with the singer breaking a crystal wine glass). The approach is very interesting, but there still are some serious design issues that they need to address, otherwise, it will be tough to deploy this for applications such as optical repeaters or switches.

Efficiency (5, Insightful)

onthefenceman (640213) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014567)

I think the summary's mention of "near 100% efficiency" is misleading. It all depends on how wide your definition of the system is. Yes, technically the material itself appears to be highly efficient, but that's discounting all the energy used creating the shockwave necessary to give the material these properties.

A fascinating discovery, yes, but a miraculous way to convert energy to suit our needs it is not.

Re:Efficiency (2, Informative)

geeber (520231) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014609)

The efficiency of interest in these types of processes is not the total energy efficiency. For example, if I lose heat because I have to stabalize the temperature of the crystal, I am not worried about that. What is of ultimate interest is the optical conversion effiency - the power in at wavelength one, versus the power out at desired wavelength two.

Optical conversion efficiency is what is important, for example, in wavelength conversion for data transmission. You don't want to lose signal power.

hrm..... (1)

m00by (605070) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014570)

set phasers to stun? forget x ray glasses, how about IR/Millimeter wave radar (or better) and other funky stuff. all you'd see with x rays are bones. what you see with millimeter wave might get =D on with the science!

New drink mix??? (4, Funny)

UncleBiggims (526644) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014576)

I'm confused. Are you saying that MIT researchers have developed a new "Cyrstal Light" drink mix that changes colors? What flavor is it?

What's the range of effect? (2, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014578)

I'd be curious to know the breadth of the effect (possibly limited to those wavelengths that can be captured by photonic crystals?). I mean, visible light is only a very small part of the EM spectrum. ec2.html
Could this effect mean one could upshift radio waves to hard xrays? Or microwaves to gamma rays? The idea that this can be done with nearly 100% efficiency is the biggest wow-factor and seems like it should be violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

Re:What's the range of effect? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014643)

It's not violating the second law of thermodynamics because to do this sort of upshift requires a stress to be applied to a crystal, thus inputting energy into the system. It's just that this energy is converted into a higher frequency light ray.

Re:What's the range of effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014656)

I suspect that 100% efficiency is 100% photonic efficiency.

100W incidence IR => 100W output UV

Of course, there is the power sent in to shake the crystal, and that is lost (though you could possibly get conversion from vibrational energy tophoton enery, 120W UV out).

"Most prized results.." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014584)

"These are probably the most exciting results in photonics in the last decade."

Wow wee. Let's see ... since 1993's blue LEDs ... what exactly wonderful has happened in the field of photonics.

That's right, not a shit.

Lawrence Livermore and bullets (1)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014590)

A pity the researchers seem determined to pander to the rednecks by doing experiments in which they fire bullets at crystals. It sounds a bit too much like those fusion machines at LL that either don't work or are now covered in secrecy (fire lasers at deuterium/tritium pellets...). That's the bit of the article I'd have left out if I wanted to be taken seriously. Terahertz imaging might be safer than X-rays, but not if the medic comes in clutching his assault rifle ("OK, we're going to shine a light on your head, then I'm just going to let a few rounds off at this here photonic crystal and we'll have some nice pictures of the inside of your skull.")

Being a little more serious, though, clearly I should have paid a lot more attention in those lectures on abnormal refraction in crystals. Thanks to my lecturers for making crystallography boring all those years ago, when nowadays it's just about the most important set of technologies out.

You know what they say about the EM spectrum... (3, Funny)

VCAGuy (660954) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014591)

...shift happens!

No article up yet, but here's the abstract (5, Informative)

DrFlounder (137823) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014599)

Not much more information than in the article, but here's the abstract. This is pretty similar to Bragg scattering, which is a well known effect that uses sound waves to upshift the frequency of light. Current Bragg cells are very inefficient and are limited to small shifts in frequency. A high efficiency Bragg cell capable of shifting frequency by a large amount would be extremely interesting.

From Physical Review Letters. []

Color of shock waves in photonic crystals
Evan J. Reed, Marin Soljacic, and John D. Joannopoulos

Unexpected and stunning new physical phenomena result when light interacts with a shock wave or shock-like dielectric modulation propagating through a photonic crystal. These new phenomena include the capture of light at the shock wave front and re-emission at a tunable pulse rate and carrier frequency across the bandgap, and bandwidth narrowing as opposed to the ubiquitous bandwidth broadening. To our knowledge, these effects do not occur in any other physical system and are all realizable under experimentally accessible conditions. Furthermore, their generality make them amenable to observation in a variety of time-dependent photonic crystal systems, which has significant technological implications.

In other news.. (1)

knightinshiningarmor (653332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014602)

Intel's Pentium 5 is the coldest processor ever, and it also provides a light show as you listen to your pirat^H^H^H^H^H legal mp3s!

Cool application! (2, Interesting)

Domini (103836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014614)

Having the ultimate sunglasses... have it shift Ultra-violet to a more visible frequency...

Or perhaps even infrared/heat?
Cool glasses that make you see in the dark? (military applications?)


Biodegradable? (3, Funny)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014616)

  • The work is impressive, says materials chemist Michael Sailor at the University of California, San Diego, whose team has developed flexible, biodegradable photonic crystals. He says he now plans to test the phenomenon for himself.
Sounds like they didn't manage to make crystals that actually *last*, and are attempting to sell this bug as a feature.
Who says the physical engineering guys can't learn anything from the software guys? :)

RE: The future of...*Everything*!?! (3, Interesting)

fshalor (133678) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014618)

This is by far one of the most pivital breakthroughs I've seen in a while. Makes me want to fire up our lasers and start playing...However, they haven't accomplished this yet..

"We ought to be able to do things that have never been possible before," Joannopoulos. While this is true, its application remains to be seen. I'll wait with held breath for their publication.

On the same note, I wounder wheather this is just the begining of similar earth shattering (whell, light bending in this case) breakthroughs in other fields due to bringing ideas of two different fields together. Most optics people I know would never even consider bringing sound into the picture.

My prediction: new sight and smell techniques will revolutionze the way scientists do research by allowing for instantaneous point density determinations in complex 3-d flows. (Extremely useful!) This will happen when this advacment using sound to modify crystal properties is coupled with a device that picks up minute particle changes over a surface (smell) and correlates the two internally.

heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6014625)

there is one interesting site regarding MIT - []

Does this mean (2, Funny)

DaLiNKz (557579) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014635)

Does this mean my laser pointer will be able to hit the moon? :D

Re:Does this mean (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014650)

It already can....You just don't see it anymore :)
You could also try throwing it very hard....


High-efficiency automobile lighting? (2, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014645)


This research could point the way for automotive lighting systems that are far more efficient than today's lights but use a tiny fraction of its power.

Already, we've seen LED taillights on a number of cars such as the Nissan Skyline (as the Infiniti G35 is known in most of the world). This research could lead to LED-based automobile headlights that are just as bright as the high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon headlights found on more expensive automobiles but doesn't need the expensive power generating system HID headlights now need and uses a tiny fraction of the power needed for regular headlights. Other lighting systems such as fog lights could benefit from these new technologies, too.

Peer Review? (5, Informative)

kravlor (597242) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014653)

This certainly sounds like an excellent advance in the field.I have been aware of interesting work with shock waves in other materials, for example, to create hydrogen metal, but it wouldn't surprise me if these claimed results were valid.

There are a couple of problems with the article and its claims, however:

  • Near 100% efficiency -- I'd like to see a reproducable demonstration of this. If it is true, we will have a revolution in the solar cell industry. However, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a difficult thing to contend with; anything that comes near 100% should set off any good physicist's red flags.
  • The article is going to be published in the Physical Review Letters -- This is significantly different than saying the article has been published in the PRL's. Such a journal is peer reviewed, which means that other respected scientists in the field have read and commented on the article and its methods, and endorse the results. This case, however, seems a lot like "cold fusion" -- with researchers calling a press conference before letting others reproduce their results.

I hope for the best, but remain sceptical; let's hope these new shockwave effects become easier to generate and exploit!

Is the Photonic Revolution Coming? (4, Informative)

rpiquepa (644694) | more than 11 years ago | (#6014657)

I also commented this story here [] , but I also previously posted another column [] on this subject. Please read it if you're interested by the photonic revolution.
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