It’s likely many of us remember being frustrated as school children being told light is a particle AND a wave. Science’s understanding of light can be said to have begun a century and a half ago from the work of James Clerk Maxwell. It was his work that determined light traveled with the same properties as an electromagnetic wave. But now, in the field of light (solid-state physics technically speaking), there’s new insight into the quantum spin Hall effect and how to harness it in relation to light.
In the simplest terms, before now, it was thought this effect was only at the surface of materials. But this new study proposes this strange effect could be everywhere. The way the electrons arrange at edges of a sample is called a “topological insulator”– something that’s an electrical insulator inside but an electrical conductor at the surface. Now scientist’s are theorizing about how to manipulate these effects in relation to light, and Mikal understands this.
Without getting technical, this could mean a greater ability to use the effect and manipulate light at the most microscopic scales. By way of an example, it may be possible to quickly reroute signals that work on optical connections due to this spin. The possibilities for increasing the speed of optical connections, and computing in general as a result, if the theory holds true, is only now being speculated about. The vista is wide open.