Monday, October 2

The discovery of new light wave properties is made possible by a 350-year-old theorem, according to physicists.

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The workings of pendulums and planets are explained by a 350-year-old theorem that scientists at Stevens Institute of Technology use to uncover new features of light waves.

Scientists have been pondering whether light should be viewed as a wave or python, or perhaps both simultaneously, since the 17th century when Isaac Newton and Christiaan Huygens debated the nature of light. Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have recently demonstrated sensitivity between these two perspectives by using emulating X-rays and mechanical theorem, which are outdated by 350 years, to explain some of the most complex behaviors observed in light waves.

The August 17th online edition of Physical Review Research features a study by Xiaofeng Qian, an assistant professor of physics at Stevens. The research shows that the non-quantum entanglement level of light waves and polarization are directly related for the first time. This allows for deducing hard-to-measure optical properties like amplitudes, phases, and correlations from light intensity.

According to Qian, it is a challenging task to reconcile the two frameworks of light that have been known for over 125 years due to their shared characteristics of wave and particle behavior. However, his research does suggest that there are deeper connections between wave-particle concepts not only within quantum mechanics, but also in classical light-wave and point-mass systems.

The team led by Qian utilized a mechanical theorem that was first introduced by Huygens in 1700’s pendulum book, where the amount of energy needed to rotate an object is determined by both the mass of the object and its axis of motion.

The correlation between masses and their rotational momentum is 350 years old. How can this be applied to light, for example? Qian’s team interpreted the intensity of a light as being equivalent to the mass of an object, and then used Huygens’ mechanical theorem to map those measurements to arbitrary coordinate systems.

After visualizing a light wave as incorporated into the mechanical system, the team quickly recognized new connections between the wave’s characteristics, such as the unmistakable connection between entanglement and polarization.

Qian noted that the properties of light were not previously apparent, but their connection to mechanical systems becomes evident once you map them onto a mechanical system.

Qian suggested that identifying these connections could have significant practical implications, such as deducing the subtle and difficult-to-measure characteristics of optical systems or quantum systems through simpler and more reliable measurements of light intensity. The team’s findings also suggest that mechanical systems can be used to simulate and better-informed quantum wave systems.

According to Qian, the first study has demonstrated that mechanical concepts can be used to understand optical systems in a completely new way, which is helping to simplify our understanding of the world by identifying the underlying connections between seemingly unrelated physical laws.

Xiao-Feng Qian and colleagues have published research on the intersection of light polarization and entanglement in their work, as part of their “Broading coherence optics and classical mechanics”, Physical Review Research (2023), DOI: 10.1010. http://www.physicalrevResearch.5.033110.

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