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Light as light

Physics Stack Exchange is a Q & A site for active researchers, academics and students of physics; anyone can ask or answer, and the best answers rise to the top by votes. It’s genuinely interesting and lots of fun.

One post listed methods of storing cold (ice), heat (i.e. hot water bag), electrical charge (batteries) and, in a stretch, “storing” a magnetic field in a magnet, then went on to wonder what keeps us from doing the same with light.


Among other things, the top answer speculates on photons (and, by default, the whole particle/wave thing), having to accommodate the stored light’s speed (186,000 miles a second) and mirrors to keep it bouncing around – but an article in PhysicsWorld tells of research into a solution.

Presently, in switching and data processing operations, light pulses carried over fiber optic cables must be converted to electrical signals and back to light – a costly operation.

The research looks into a method of eliminating these conversion steps by capturing the pulses within a micro-fiber, itself wrapped between the bulges of a resonator-laden tube.


Though held for an impossibly short time, it’s much longer than achieved in earlier experiments and long enough to manipulate the data. Grab some caffeine and dig into this fascinating stuff.

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