Coulomb Bound States of Strongly Interacting Photons

September 16, 2015

Figure 3* [©2015 American Physical Society]

Physicists have taken another step toward building objects out of photons. In the latest issue of Physical Review Letters, a team based in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Maryland has shown theoretically that, by tweaking a few parameters of the binding process, photons could travel side by side at a specific distance from each other. The arrangement is akin to the way that two hydrogen atoms sit next to each other in a hydrogen molecule.

The team includes Harvard Physics graduate Alexey Gorshkov (surrently at NIST), Harvard grad student Soonwon Choi, Prof. Mikhail Lukin, and several collaborators from other institutions.

*See M.F. Maghrebi, M.J. Gullans, P. Bienias, S. Choi, I. Martin, O. Firstenberg, M.D. Lukin, H.P. Büchler, and A.V. Gorshkov, "Coulomb Bound States of Strongly Interacting Photons," Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 123601 (16 Sept 2015) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.123601.

See also the phys.org article: "Physicists Show 'Molecules' Made of Light May Be Possible," by Chad Boutin.