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Localised Light to Help Create Device for Taking Medical Tests at Home

CC0 / / Reflections Light Free
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As part of an international research team, scientists at Siberian Federal University (SibFU) have extended the life of a special state of light that arises at the interface between a cholesteric liquid crystal and a layered medium. This will help create devices for taking medical tests at home. The study results were published in Crystals magazine.

The optical state studied by the research team is localised light that forms at the interface between two media playing the role of mirrors. Due to multiple re-reflections, the light turns out to be “trapped” and “blocked” at the interface. When light falls at the interface between the media, reflected and refracted rays appear.

When there is a limiting angle of total reflection, a beam can appear that glides along with the interface — a surface light wave.

“Unlike other surface waves, when a ray falls perpendicular to the surface, the wave stops and doesn’t transfer energy along with the interface. This phenomenon is called the Tamm optical state,” Stepan Vetrov, Head of the research group, professor at the Department of Theoretical Physics and Wave Phenomena of SFU, told Sputnik.

Using the cholesteric liquid crystal, the scientists have managed to spin the stopped light like a whirligig toy. This liquid crystal doesn’t have mirror symmetry, since it consists of oriented oblong molecules, the direction of which is twisted into a spiral, like a spiral staircase.

The resulting “light top” lives longer than ordinary waves. The scientists called it the chiral optical Tamm state.

“It’s very important that the new state turned out to be relatively long-living: it lasts for picoseconds. During this time, the light manages to bounce off the mirrors thousands of times. We hope that our study will help to create new types of microlasers and biosensors in the future,” Natalya Rudakova, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics at Siberian Federal University, said.

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According to the researchers, the resulting biosensor systems will be extremely supersensitive, which will allow taking blood tests at home and getting quick and accurate results; and this just one of the possible novelties that can enter our reality through this discovery.

The research team also included scientists from Kirensky Institute of Physics, Federal Research Center KSC SB RAS and National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan).

The study results were published in Crystals magazine.

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