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Slow Light: From Basics to Future Prospects

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How can the speed of light be reduced a millionfold, and why does this matter? The answers to these questions are intriguing and important.

Daniel J. Gauthier, Duke University, Alexander L. Gaeta, Cornell University, and Robert W. Boyd, University of Rochester

The speed of light in a vacuum is a quantity that defies human comprehension. A flash of light travels across a football field so quickly that it appears instantaneous; it is only through the use of modern high-speed photoreceivers that we can measure the propagation time delay. But now, in several laboratories around the world, light speed is approaching the human scale. Recent research from the nonlinear and quantum optics communities has demonstrated exquisite control over the speed of a pulse of light as it propagates through a material system.1 It is possible to control the speed of...Read full article

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