Source: Berkeley News Center Press Release
Guest Contributor: radik
Written by: Uncle Sam
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are now able to control the speed of light.
The scientific community involved with the project showed a year ago that the *group velocity of light, in semiconductors, could be slowed to 6 miles/second, which is 31,000 times slower than the normal speed of light. Light in a vaccum normally travels at approximately 186,000 miles/second.
Now, with the creation of a new laser amplifier device that is able to slow the speed of light to 245 meters/second; which is a snail’s pace of three-quarters the speed of sound in air, the possiblities for its uses are staggering.
The other upside to this successful project is that this impressive slowing of light’s speed was accomplished at room temperature. The older semiconductor experiment required temperatures as low as 10 degrees Kelvin; not a very practical situation.
Having the capability to control light velocity will have a major impact on industries that are concerned with high resolution video conferencing, the developement of 3-D Digital Graphics and super computing. Having a handle on light’s speed will revolutionize computer chip technology through the development of quantum memory chips.
While this will greatly change how we will be living in the not-to-distant future, we are still a very, very long way off from that ultimate dream of traveling in starships at speeds close or equal to the speed of light.
*group velocity of light is the speed at which a laser pulse travels along a light wave.