2021-11-22

“From nothing”: scientists show that photons can be detected from vacuum through physical experiments

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680bd312ce66e3e - "From nothing": scientists show that photons can be detected from vacuum through physical experiments

“in a daily sense, these findings seem surprising to show the ability to produce light from an open vacuum,” said Eleanor and A. Kelvin Smith, distinguished professors of physics at Dartmouth College Said miles Blencowe, a senior researcher in the study. “In essence, we create something from nothing; it’s cool to think about it.”

in classical physics, vacuum is considered to have no matter, light and energy. In quantum physics, a vacuum is a photon filled with waves. However, this light is almost impossible to measure

a part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the “equivalence principle”, established a connection between Hawking’s prediction of radiating black holes and enru’s prediction of accelerating photodetector to see light. The “equivalence principle” says that gravity and acceleration are fundamentally indistinguishable. People in an acceleration elevator without windows will not be able to determine whether they are affected by gravity, inertial force, or both

therefore, if the gravity of a black hole can create photons in a vacuum, so can the acceleration

as science has proved that it is possible to observe light in a vacuum, the Dartmouth College team began to find a practical way to detect photons

“From nothing”: scientists show that photons can be detected from vacuum through physical experiments

Dartmouth College’s research theory predicts that nitrogen based defects in rapidly accelerating diamond films can be detected. In the proposed experiment, stamp sized synthetic diamonds containing nitrogen based photodetectors are suspended in an ultracold metal box that creates a vacuum. This membrane is like a tethered trampoline, which is accelerated at a huge speed

the research paper explains that the photon production of the resulting cavity vacuum is collectively enhanced and measurable. When the number of detectors exceeds a critical value, the vacuum photon production undergoes a phase transition from the normal stage to “an enhanced inverted luminescence stage similar to super sunlight”

“the movement of diamonds produces photons,” said postdoctoral researcher Wang Hui, who wrote this theoretical paper when he was a graduate student at Dartmouth College. “Essentially, all you need to do is shake something violently enough to produce entangled photons.”

Dartmouth College’s paper studies the use of multiple photon detectors — Diamond defects — to amplify the acceleration of the film and improve the detection sensitivity. Oscillating diamond also allows the experiment to be carried out in a controllable space at a strong acceleration rate

“From nothing”: scientists show that photons can be detected from vacuum through physical experiments(1)

“our work is the first time to explore what happens when there are many accelerated photodetectors instead of one,” Blencowe said. “We found the quantum enhanced amplification effect of creating light from vacuum, in which the collective effect of many acceleration detectors is greater than considering them alone.”

in order to confirm that the detected photons come from vacuum rather than the surrounding environment, the research team proved the “entangled light” observed by the theory, which is an obvious feature of quantum mechanics and cannot come from external radiation

“the photons detected by diamonds are generated in pairs,” the researchers said. “The generation of paired and entangled photons proves that photons are generated in vacuum and not from other sources.”

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the suggestion of observing light in vacuum does not have direct applicability, but the research team hopes that it can be like other theoretical studies, Increase the understanding of physical forces and contribute to society. In particular, this work may be helpful to explain Hawking’s prediction of radiating black holes through Einstein’s equivalence principle

“part of the responsibility and happiness of theorists like us is to put forward ideas,” Blencowe said. “We are trying to show that it is feasible to do this experiment to test something that is extremely difficult until now.”

a technical animation produced by the team describes the process of creating photons in this experiment. The detected light exists in the microwave frequency, so it is invisible to the human eye