Physicists have created what they say is the first device that’s capable of generating particles that behave as if they have negative mass.
The device generates a strange particle that’s half-light/half-matter, and as if that isn’t cool enough, it could also be the foundation for a new kind of laser that could operate on far less energy than current technologies.
This builds on recent theoretical work on the behaviour of something called a polariton, which appears to behave as if it has negative mass – a mind-blowing property that sees objects move towards the force pushing it, instead of being pushed away.
Now physicists from the University of Rochester have created a device that allows them to actually create these polaritons at room temperature.
They do this by manipulating captured photons and combine them with a kind of quasi-particle called an exciton to make something half-light/half-matter that some scientists affectionately refer to as ‘magic dust‘.
This alone is “interesting and exciting from a physics perspective,” says quantum physicist Nick Vamivakas from Rochester’s Institute of Optics.
“But it also turns out the device we’ve created presents a way to generate laser light with an incrementally small amount of power.”