Latest Issue of Science News


News

Single photon detected but not destroyed

First instrument built that can witness the passage of a light particle without absorbing it

By
2:05pm, November 14, 2013

Physicists have seen a single particle of light and then let it go on its way. The feat was possible thanks to a new technique that, for the first time, detects optical photons without destroying them. The technology could eventually offer perfect detection of photons, providing a boost to quantum communication and even biological imaging.

Plenty of commercially available instruments can identify individual light particles, but these instruments absorb the photons and use the energy to produce an audible click or some other signal of detection.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More on Nobels 2013