Trapping the Colors of the Fiber Rainbow

Researchers say halting and storing light would revolutionize computing
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2007 10:41 PM CST
Professor Ortwin Hess, Head of the Theory and Advanced Computation Group, University of Sussex Physics Department. His team has developed a revolutionary fiber optics concept which could be used to store...   (University of Sussex)
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(Newser) – One of the immutable laws of physics is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, about 186,000 miles per second. But The Economist reports new research shows it may be possible to slow down light to a virtual halt, and even store it. If that could be achieved, the stored light could revolutionize data transfers in computer systems and networks.

Details of the concept are revealed in the current Nature. Researchers envisage tapered fiber optics made with a material with an inner core that has a negative refractive index - which would make the light beam ever narrower. As the thickness of the fiber optic decreases, colors of the light spectrum are trapped at different points, allowing them to literally catch a rainbow.