New research suggests that it is possible to create a new form of light by binding light to a single electron, combining the properties of both.
by using theoretical physics to model the behaviour of light and a recently-discovered class of materials known as topological insulators, Imperial researchers have found that it could interact with just one electron on the surface.
This would create a coupling that merges some of the properties of the light and the electron. Normally, light travels in a straight line, but when bound to the electron it would instead follow its path, tracing the surface of the material.
Their models showed that as well as the light taking the property of the electron and circulating the particle, the electron would also take on some of the properties of the light.
Normally, as electrons are travelling along materials, such as electrical circuits, they will stop when faced with a defect. However, Dr Giannini’s team discovered that even if there were imperfections in the surface of the nanoparticle, the electron would still be able to travel onwards with the aid of the light.
If this could be adapted into photonic circuits, they would be more robust and less vulnerable to disruption and physical imperfections