Mathematical Model Based on Maxwell’s Equations Leads to Discovery of New Lightwave

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EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 9, 2019 — Equations developed by physicist James Clerk Maxwell have helped to reveal how crystals can be manipulated to produce a distinctive form of lightwave. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania State University made the discovery by analyzing how light waves interact with certain naturally occurring or man-made crystals.

The researchers found that a previously unknown type of lightwave, recently named the Dyakonov-Voigt wave, was produced at the interface where the crystals meet another material, such as oil or water. Dyakonov-Voigt waves can be produced only by using certain types of crystals whose optical properties depend on the direction in which light passes through them.

Dyakonov-Voigt waves decay as they move away from the interface and travel only in a single direction. Other types of so-called surface waves decay more quickly and travel in multiple directions.

“Dyakonov-Voigt waves represent a step forward in our understanding of how light interacts with complex materials and offer opportunities for a range of technological advancements,” researcher Tom Mackay said.

The research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A (  

Published: September 2019
Research & TechnologyeducationUniversity of EdinburghEuropeAmericasLight SourcesOpticslight waveDyakonov–Voigt surface wavesJames Clerk Maxwelllightwave

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