Physicists have created a mirror consisting of only a few hundred atoms
Scientists have developed the lightest optical mirror, consisting of just one structured layer of several hundred identical atoms.
As mirrors, polished metal surfaces or glass with a special coating are usually used to improve their reflection characteristics. However, physicists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics demonstrated for the first time that a similar result can be achieved using a layer of structured atoms located in a two-dimensional array of laser beams.
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The new mirror has a thickness of only a few tens of nanometers and a diameter of about seven microns. Although a person is not able to see it with the naked eye, he could notice the reflection that he creates.
This efficiency is achieved due to the fact that the mirror has a specific structure that suppresses diffuse light scattering and combines reflection into a stable unidirectional beam. In addition, due to the close and discrete distance between atoms, incoming photons can be reflected from them several times before they escape, which further enhances the outgoing flow.
Nevertheless, such a mirror is unlikely to ever be used in everyday life, because during the experiment it was created inside a complex installation, weighing about two tons. However, research can help develop more advanced quantum computers, study quantum-optical phenomena, and test theories of the interaction of light with matter.
Recall that scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have recently created a quantum optical sensor for accurate measurement of physical quantities.
, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics