Physicists have created a “hole in time” using the temporal equivalent of an invisibility cloak. Thanks to Janis.
First Demonstration of Time Cloaking
Invisibility cloaks are the result of physicists’ newfound ability to distort electromagnetic fields in extreme ways. The idea is steer light around a volume of space so that anything inside this region is essentially invisible.
The effect has generated huge interest. The first invisibility cloaks worked only at microwave frequencies but in only a few years, physicists have found ways to create cloaks that work for visible light, for sound and for ocean waves. They’ve even designed illusion cloaks that can make one object look like another.
Today, Moti Fridman and buddies, at Cornell University in Ithaca, go a step further. These guys have designed and built a cloak that hides events in time.
Time cloaking is possible because of a kind of duality between space and time in electromagnetic theory. In particular, the diffraction of a beam of light in space is mathematically equivalent to the temporal propagation of light through a dispersive medium. In other words, diffraction and dispersion are symmetric in spacetime.
That immediately leads to an interesting idea. Just as its easy to make a lens that focuses light in space using diffraction, so it is possible to use dispersion to make a lens that focuses in time.
Such a time-lens can be made using an electro-optic modulator, for example, and has a variety of familiar properties. “This time-lens can, for example, magnify or compress in time,” say Fridman and co.
This magnifying and compressing in time is important.
The trick to building a temporal cloak is to place two time-lenses in series and then send a beam of light through them. The first compresses the light in time while the second decompresses it again.
But this leaves a gap. For short period, there is a kind of hole in time in which any event is unrecorded.
So to an observer, the light coming out of the second time-lens appears undistorted, as if no event has occurred.
In effect, the space between the two lenses is a kind of spatio-temporal cloak that deletes changes that occur in short periods of time.
The device has some limitations. The Cornell time cloak lasts only for 110 nanoseconds–that’s not long. And Fridman and co say the best it can achieve will be 120 microseconds.
But it’s early days yet. Given the rapid development of spatial cloaks, it’d be a brave man who’d bet on this being the last word.
Fridman and pals have clearly made themselves an interesting toy but they modestly refrain from speculating about the applications for their time cloak.
However, that’s a task well suited to readers of the Physics arXiv Blog. If you have any suggestions, leave them here.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1107.2062: Demonstration Of Temporal Cloaking
Demonstration of temporal cloaking
Recent research has uncovered a remarkable ability to manipulate and control electromagnetic fields to produce effects such as perfect imaging and spatial cloaking. To achieve spatial cloaking, the index of refraction is manipulated to flow light from a probe around an object in such a way that a “hole” in space is created, and it remains hidden. Alternatively, it may be desirable to cloak the occurrence of an event over a finite time period, and the idea of temporal cloaking was proposed in which the dispersion of the material is manipulated in time to produce a “time hole” in the probe beam to hide the occurrence of the event from the observer. This approach is based on accelerating and slowing down the front and rear parts, respectively, of the probe beam to create a well controlled temporal gap in which the event occurs so the probe beam is not modified in any way by the event. The probe beam is then restored to its original form by the reverse manipulation of the dispersion. Here we present an experimental demonstration of temporal cloaking by applying concepts from the time-space duality between diffraction and dispersive broadening. We characterize the performance of our temporal cloak by detecting the spectral modification of a probe beam due to an optical interaction while the cloak is turned off and on and show that the event is observed when the cloak is turned off but becomes undetectable when the cloak is turned on. These results are a significant step toward the development of full spatio-temporal cloaking.
|Comments:||7 pages, 5 figures, submitted to Nature|
|Subjects:||Optics (physics.optics); Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph)|
|Cite as:||arXiv:1107.2062v1 [physics.optics]|
From: Moti Fridman [view email]
[v1] Mon, 11 Jul 2011 15:42:26 GMT (369kb,D)