Light can twist matter, according to a new study that observed ribbons of nanoparticles twisting in response to light.
Scientists knew matter can cause light to bend – prisms and glasses prove this easily enough. But the reverse phenomenon was not shown to occur until recently.
The researchers assembled strings of nanoparticles, which are tiny clumps of matter on the scale of nanometers (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter). In a darkened lab, the scientists linked nanoparticles together into ribbons. At first the nano ribbons were flat, but when a light was shone on them, they curled up into spirals.
The discovery was so novel, the researchers were skeptical of their own results at first.
"I didn't believe it at the beginning," Kotov said. "To be honest, it took us three and a half years to really figure out how photons of light can lead to such a remarkable change in rigid structures a thousand times bigger than molecules."
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Light can bend matter.