The boundaries of basic physics continue to be tested in the laboratory of Professor Ayman Abouraddy, Ph.D., with newly published research demonstrating the feasibility of accelerating light packets.
The experimental realizations of accelerating optical pulses conducted by graduate student Murat Yessenov build on previous experiments that tuned the speed of light packets in free space using highly specialized equipment. Here Yessenov is using this technique to accelerate and decelerate a pulse of light in air. He reported a rate of pulse acceleration 10 times faster than previous attempts.
Details of the work are found in the December issue of Physics Review Letters.
The experiment adds one more degree of control in the ongoing work by Abouraddy’s lab to direct pulses of light. Their finding has potential applications in a wide ranges of fields, including particle acceleration and nonlinear optics.
“The more we learn how to control the speed of light pulse, the more feasible it becomes to design unique, tunable pulses and study new physics using them,” Yessenov said.
Abouraddy said developing an easily replicable method for accelerating packets of light was one of the last hurdles of general relativity research. The other was bending light from its fixed straight line using Airy beams. He is proud to say both milestones were reached at UCF.
“This now opens up new avenues for research and exotic possibilities,” Abouraddy said.