I always thought that stopping light meant stopping time as well, but it appears my understanding of Physics was a little off. I was just watching TV recently, minding my own business, when all of a sudden the thought of storing light in the form of light just jumped into my head. Imagine the ability to store light like you’d store water in bottle, only to release it at the time you need it. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Well, turns out this is quite feasible and has already been accomplished. It would be a lot more efficient than 1st converting light into electricity and then saving the electricity as chemical energy in batteries.
There are currently 2 ways to do this:
- Use of a Bose-Einstein Condensate to stop or considerably slow down the speed of light.
- Use of Total Internal Reflection in a reflective surface system where 100% reflection is achieved and there’s no leakage.
A Danish physicist, Lene Vestergaard Hau, managed to store light, move it around, and make it reappear. She later succeeded in in stopping light completely, and developed methods by which it can be stopped and later restarted for computing purposes but still applicable to the Energy industry.
A German team also succeeded in slowing down light and holding it in place for 60 seconds. They achieved this feat using a crystal that doesn’t normally transmit light at all, cooling it to a very low temperature then firing a laser at it. Next, they fired another laser through the now transparent crystal while turning off its transparency, trapping the light from the laser inside. They found they were able to hold the light in place for up to 60 seconds and could be longer with different crystals.
Total Internal Reflection
The phenomenon of Total Internal Reflection(TIR) causes 100% reflection. This is the principle that operates in fiber optics. The light does not escape, nor is it refracted as it travels through the cables, instead it keeps on reflecting inside the fiber. It’s possible therefore to create a magic box of mirrors that can store light for long extended periods of time.