Previously seen at the megascale, gravitational lensing goes micro
C. Sheng ET AL/Nature Photonics 2013
Light rays bend around a microscopic sphere just as they would around a gargantuan black hole thanks to a new chip-sized device. The experiment, detailed September 29 in Nature Photonics, demonstrates physicists’ newfound ability to mimic and miniaturize cosmic-scale physical processes in the lab.
“It’s a nice little demonstration that can bend light around 360 degrees, just as gravity can around a black hole,” says William Unruh, a theoretical physicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity defines gravity as the curvature of space and time around objects with mass: The more massive the object, the more drastically it warps space and time. As a result, the trajectory of light bends as it whizzes past the universe’s densest, most massive objects, including black holes and neutron stars, the remnant cores of dead stars