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Monday, 26 October 2015

Scientists can now “squeeze” light, a breakthrough that could make computers millions of times faster

Olivia Goldhill

Have you ever wondered why we don’t use light to transmit messages? Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but while we use light to carry signals along fiber optic cables, we use electrons to process sound and information in our phones and computers. The reason has always been because light particles–photons—are extremely difficult to manipulate, whereas electrons can be manipulated relatively easily.

But now a group of Harvard physicists has taken a major step toward solving that puzzle, and have brought us one step closer to ultra-fast, light-based computers.

The physicists, led by Professor Eric Mazur, have created a material where the phase velocity of light is infinite. Their results were published in Nature Photonics on Oct. 19th.

“The phase speed is infinite—much larger, infinitely larger than the speed of light,” Mazur tells Quartz.

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