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Trapping photons: a model for containing light

09.04.14 - The first model for capturing and condensing light under realistic conditions has been realized by a student at EPFL, and published in Physical Review A.

Quantum particles can be divided into two types: fermions and bosons. When cooled down to near-absolute zero temperatures, bosons can condense together into a collective state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate where they occupy the same quantum state (e.g. same place and velocity simultaneously). This state of matter allows us to observe remarkable phenomena such as superconductivity – the ability to conduct electric energy with zero resistance. One of the greatest challenges in physics has been to realistically create a Bose-Einstein condensate using photons, which could have significant applications in laser technology. Publishing in Physical Review A, a PhD student at EPFL has developed a realistic theoretical model for condensing photons in three-dimensional cavities.

Can photons condense?