Light through the opaque

Researchers find experimental evidence supporting the result from random matrix theory that there is always an “open channel” through a light-scattering disordered material (such as snow). Beyond being a confirmation of a long-held mathematical argument, this has a number of potential uses:

“This is a profound experimental result,” says John Pendry of Imperial College London, who was one of the theorists who helped develop random matrix theory. He says this 20-year-old idea has been well-accepted, but direct evidence for the channels has not been provided until now. Being able to enhance the light transmission through scattering materials could have potential applications in biological imaging and therapy, as well as improving cellular phone reception among tall buildings. “Disorder and diffusion crop up all the time and are mainly a nuisance,” Pendry says. “But by understanding them, we can maybe use them to our advantage.”

[Via Swans on Tea]


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