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May 19, 2020

Scientists use light to accelerate supercurrents, access forbidden light, quantum world

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

Scientists are using light waves to accelerate supercurrents and access the unique properties of the quantum world, including forbidden light emissions that one day could be applied to high-speed, quantum computers, communications and other technologies.

The scientists have seen unexpected things in supercurrents—electricity that moves through materials without resistance, usually at super cold temperatures—that break symmetry and are supposed to be forbidden by the conventional laws of physics, said Jigang Wang, a professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University, a senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and the leader of the project.

Wang’s lab has pioneered use of light pulses at terahertz frequencies- trillions of pulses per second—to accelerate electron pairs, known as Cooper pairs, within supercurrents. In this case, the researchers tracked light emitted by the accelerated electrons pairs. What they found were “second harmonic ,” or light at twice the frequency of the incoming light used to accelerate electrons.

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