By Andy Choi
Cambridge-based Cavendish Laboratory researchers made efforts to drive electrons across a classically impenetrable barrier, using light.
This is the first time, a light-controlled quantum tunneling has been achieved. The findings were published in the journal Science, dated 05 April, 2012.
Particles usually fail to penetrate through walls, but according to quantum mechanics, penetration is possible with small particles. This may take place while producing radioactive decay, in scanning tunneling microscopes and in a number of chemical reactions.
The research guide, Professor Jeremy Baumberg stated that by integrating light, penetration of electrons through walls can be achieved. This approach is promising due to the pattern of light in the form of cavity photons, where packets of light exist in a network-fashion showing back and forth transmission between mirrors. The electrons are packed between the mirrors and oscillate through their wall.
According to researcher Peter Cristofolini, this light-controlled approach will give rise to new indivisible particles that will involve both light and matter and disappears through the semiconductor’s slab-like walls.
These new particles were named as 'dipolaritons', and are capable of being stretched out in a specific direction unlike a bar magnet, yet shows extremely strong forces between each other.
Such strongly interacting particles serve as elements of interest for major semiconductor physicists who devise creating condensates, analogous to superfluids and superconductors that travel within semiconductors, without loss. Furthermore, with these new electronic particles, using quantum mechanics, scientists can develop new approaches from atomic physics to practical devices.