23 June 2024
Light in amorphous solids: Not so disordered after all

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Understanding Light Behavior in Amorphous Solids

In a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the University of Ottawa, it has been revealed that amorphous solids, previously believed to not selectively absorb light due to their disordered atomic structure, actually exhibit a phenomenon called dichroism. This discovery challenges long-held theories and sheds new light on how light interacts with formless materials.

Amorphous solids are materials that lack a regular crystalline structure, making them appear disordered at the atomic level. Traditionally, it was assumed that these disordered materials did not have the ability to selectively absorb light. However, the study conducted at uOttawa has demonstrated that amorphous solids do display dichroism, meaning they can absorb light of different polarizations.

Unveiling Dichroism in Amorphous Solids

The researchers at the University of Ottawa utilized helical light beams to uncover the dichroism present in amorphous solids. By employing these specialized light beams with twisted wavefronts, the scientists were able to observe how the materials selectively absorbed light depending on its polarization. This discovery not only challenges existing beliefs but also opens up new avenues for controlling the optical behavior of amorphous solids.

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Crystalline and Amorphous Solids

The study, titled “Intrinsic dichroism in amorphous and crystalline solids with helical light,” published in Nature Communications, highlights the importance of short-to-medium-range order within disordered solids in influencing their response to light. Led by Professor Ravi Bhardwaj and his team of researchers, this study marks a significant breakthrough in the understanding of light-matter interactions in formless materials.

Implications for Materials Science and Optics

The implications of this research extend beyond the realm of fundamental science and have practical applications in fields such as materials science and optics. By demonstrating that non-crystalline solids exhibit helical dichroism, the study opens up new possibilities for manipulating the optical properties of materials using specialized light beams.

Professor Bhardwaj emphasizes the importance of this discovery, stating, “Our team developed a new method to show that non-crystalline solids can exhibit helical dichroism, which means they react differently to light that twists in different directions.” This novel approach not only provides experimental evidence but also offers theoretical models to comprehensively understand the observed phenomena.

Advancing Understanding of Solid-State Materials

By unveiling the intrinsic dichroism in both crystalline and amorphous solids, this research significantly advances our understanding of the optical properties of solid-state materials. The use of helical light beams as a probing tool has paved the way for innovative applications and further exploration of the unique capabilities of these specialized light fields in manipulating material properties.

Ashish Jain and Jean-Luc Bégin, doctoral students involved in the study, note the significance of their research in probing the short-to-medium-range order in disordered solids. This deeper understanding of the nature of amorphous materials will contribute to ongoing efforts to decode the mysteries surrounding these formless substances.

The revelation of dichroism in amorphous solids challenges conventional wisdom and offers new insights into the behavior of light in disordered materials. The study conducted at the University of Ottawa not only expands our knowledge of light-matter interactions but also sets the stage for future advancements in controlling and manipulating the optical properties of formless solids.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.uottawa.ca 2. www.nature.com 3. www.sciencemag.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Amorphous solids, Dichroism, Helical light beams

Amorphous solid
In condensed matter physics and materials science, an amorphous solid (or non-crystalline solid) is a solid that lacks the long-range order that is characteristic of a crystal. The terms "glass" and "glassy solid" are sometimes used synonymously with amorphous solid; however, these terms refer specifically to amorphous materials that undergo...
Read more: Amorphous solid

In optics, a dichroic material is either one which causes visible light to be split up into distinct beams of different wavelengths (colours) (not to be confused with dispersion), or one in which light rays having different polarizations are absorbed by different amounts.
Read more: Dichroism

Orbital angular momentum of light
The orbital angular momentum of light (OAM) is the component of angular momentum of a light beam that is dependent on the field spatial distribution, and not on the polarization. OAM can be split into two types. The internal OAM is an origin-independent angular momentum of a light beam that...
Read more: Orbital angular momentum of light

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