Laser builds mirror by pushing beads together

Light manipulates particles to form a reflective surface

4:01pm, January 22, 2014

BUILT WITH LIGHT  About 150 plastic beads arranged themselves into a micrometers-wide mirror when illuminated with green laser light.

A focused beam of green light has transformed 150 plastic beads into a functional mirror. The feat is the first step toward an ambitious goal: deploying lasers in space to assemble a cloud of dustlike particles into a giant telescope mirror.

“I think it’s really cool,” says Michael Burns, a laser physicist at Harvard’s Rowland Institute. “It demonstrates something that had only been discussed before.”

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