Device Creates Negative Mass and Novel Lasers

January 10, 2018

Lens and laser source from an optical-coherence microscopy deviceMost objects react in predictable ways when force is applied to them—unless they have “negative mass.” And then they react exactly opposite from what you would expect.

Now University of Rochester researchers have succeeded in creating particles with negative mass in an atomically thin semiconductor, by causing it to interact with confined light in an optical microcavity.

“By causing an exciton to give up some of its identity to a photon to create a polariton, we end up with an object that has a negative mass associated with it,” explains Institute of Optics Professor Nick Vamivakas. “That’s kind of a mind-bending thing to think about, because if you try to push or pull it, it will go in the opposite direction from what your intuition would tell you.”

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(Illustration by Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester, cropped)