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Researchers Capture the First Ever Photograph of Light as Both a Particle and a Wave

We already know that light acts as both a particle and a wave; now the big news is researchers have succeeded in taking a snapshot of the dual behavior of light for the very first time. Quantum mechanics states that light can act simultaneously as a particle or a wave. Though, there has never been a single experiment able to show both natures of light at the same time; the closest we've come before now is observing either a wave or a particle-but not both at the same time ever. When UV light strikes a metal surface, it causes a discharge of electrons. So in order to see both particle and wave properties of light, the scientists used electrons to image light. This helped in taking a single photograph of light acting simultaneously as both a wave and a stream of particles.
Light acts as both a particle and a wave. Now, though, scientists have succeeded in taking a photograph of the dual behavior of light for the very first time. Light simultaneously displaying spatial interfering and energy quantization. (Photo : Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL)

For the experiment, a beam of laser light was fired at a small metallic nanowire. The laser added up energy to the charged particles in the nanowire, triggering them to vibrate. Light moved along the wire in two probable directions. When waves moving in opposite directions encountered each other, they made a new wave that seemed as if it was standing in place. Then, the scientists fired a stream of electrons near to the nanowire to image the standing wave. As the electrons hit the standing light, they either zipped out or slowed down. The scientists then used an ultrafast microscope to image the position where this variation in speed happened.

Fabrizio Carbone, one of the scientists who took part in this experiment, said in news release "This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics-and its paradoxical nature-directly. Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing."

The results were issued in the journal Nature Communications.

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