– How can Rydberg polaritons switch continually from light to matter and back again


– How can Rydberg polaritons switch continually from light to matter and back again

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Trying to understand this article about use of gemstones in quantum computing, but it just sounds like a plot for a marvel movie to me 🙂

>New research led by the UK’s University of St Andrews found that a special form of light made using an ancient Namibian gemstone could be the key to new light-based quantum computers, which could solve long-held scientific mysteries.

>In detail, the study found that using a naturally mined cuprous oxide (Cu2O) gemstone from Namibia it is possible to produce Rydberg polaritons, the largest hybrid particles of light and matter ever created.


I’m not specifically knowledgeable about Rydberg polaritons, but in general, it’s not that something is switching between light and matter, but that the material allows / enforces a condition where light passing through interacts with the crystal in a way that generates some kind of atomic motion or electron behavior, like maybe a compression wave, etc., which then also changes the way the light moves (like index of refraction).

The result is it’s not easy to do the math for the light alone, since it’s so heavily influenced by the atoms, and you also can’t easily do the math for the atomic behavior.

But if you’re willing to give up the idea that the light and crystal are different things, you can combine the equations in a way where there’s no simple way to work with just light or just atoms, but easy to work with a new type of thing (polariton) that behaves like a discreet object that flies through the crystal like it’s in free space. And polaritons interact with each other like they’re simple particles instead of giant complex, spread out combinations of light waves and atomic oscillations.