Physicists have discovered a totally new light form that could change our fundamental understanding of the nature of light and also lead to faster and more secure fiber optic communication.
Researchers often measure a light beam through its angular momentum (a constant quantity that measures how much that light is rotating or spinning). Until now, they believed that, for all forms of light, the angular momentum would be a whole number multiple of Planck’s constant (a physical constant that sets the scale of quantum effects).
However, Irish scientists at Trinity College Dublin and the CRANN Institute demonstrated that a new light form exists where the angular momentum is only half of its typical value. While this difference seems small, it is profound: this fundamental property of light, which physicists always believed was fixed, can be changed. The researchers expect this discovery to shake up scientists’ understanding of light and also have real impact on the study of light waves in areas such as fiber optic communications.