A team directed by researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, with collaborators from the University of Pretoria, along with Mexico and Scotland, have made a fresh discovery on how light behaves in complex media, media that inclines to distort light considerably. They illustrated that “distortion” is an issue of perspective, outlining a straightforward rule that applies to all light and a vast array of media, containing underwater, optical fiber, transmission in the atmosphere, and even living biological specimens.
Their novel quantum strategy to the problem unravels a standing debate on whether some forms of light are robust or not. Importantly, the work summarizes that all light has a property that stays unchanged, an insight that wields the key to untangling the rest of the perceived distortion. To assess the finding, the team indicated robust transport through otherwise highly deforming systems, utilizing the outcome for error-free communication through noisy channels.
“What we’ve found is that vectorness is the single attribute of light that does not alter when passing through any complex media,” announces Professor Andrew Forbes from the Wits School of Physics. “This means we have something special that can be exploited when using light for communications or sensing.”
“This is a particular aspect of the pattern of the light—how the polarization pattern looks,” says Forbes. “The ‘polarization’ is just a fancy way to describe the direction of the electric field that makes up light. The pattern is also distorted, but its intrinsic nature is not.”
The team’s strategy allows experimenters to observe how to amend any distortions through the media in a manner that doesn’t cost any light.