New discovery is challenging established laws of physics, says research team.
A team of researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Shandong University in China have found a new way to get around the difficulty in producing crystals for use in laser technology, and it may lead to tremendous advances in the field. But, they are unable to explain how it works, as the new discovery seems to defy all laws of physics, according to an article in esciencenews.com.
The discovery may lead to being able to replace larger crystals, required for turning lasers into practical tools, with a packet of the newly discovered small rod-shaped micro-crystals. And they have the benefit of being able to be grown more easily and therefore much more cheaply than the larger ones.
Testing so far has revealed the new micro-crystals actually preform better than conventional crystals, but the researchers, as well as a number of colleagues across the world, are confused as to how they defy conventional theory.
It has been assumed that an optical medium would need to be symmetrical in the center to be able to convert energy with efficiency, but these micro-crystals are not.
“Currently no theory can explain the initial growth mechanism of this exotic crystal,” said NIST physicist Le Deng. “It’s challenging our current understanding in fields from crystallography to condensed matter physics.”
Deng adds the team is going to proceed with the research, which is finding a way to overcome the difficulties of growing micro-crystal rods that can be stacked, while the physicists try to determine how the science is working.
He adds, “We can grow more than 1,000 micro-structures every 10 minutes or so on a single glass slide, so growing a large amount is not a problem. What we need to figure out is how to grow a large fraction of them with nearly uniform cross-sections since that will be important in the final assembly stage.”
Scientists have been looking at ways to develop large high-quality crystals for energy-intensive applications for many years, but this new discovery may change the focus towards a new technology.
Findings from the research were published in Science Advances.