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Physicists find a new way to slow the speed of light

Posted January 23, 2015

A team of physicists working at the University of Glasgow has found a way to slow the speed of light that does not involve running it through a medium such as glass or water. Instead, as they explain in their paper published in the journal Science, they caused a change in the speed by first running it through a mask, which changed its shape.

Scientists slow down the speed of light travelling through air

Everyone knows that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant, but now it appears that there is a way to indirectly alter its speed—by running it through a special mask. Doing so apparently causes a change to the shape of the photon, making it move through a vacuum slower than an unaltered photon.

The researchers built what they called a racetrack—setting up a dual course for firing photons and detecting when they struck a detector a meter away. The first group of photons was fired in the normal way, while the second group was fired through a filter to shape it into either a Gaussian or Bessel beam.

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