A microscope so powerful that you can see light moving

Professor Ido Kaminer and his team have achieved a huge advance in the field of quantum science: a quantum microscope that records the flow of light, allowing direct observation of light trapped within a photonic crystal.

He has published it in the article Coherent interaction between free electrons and a photonic cavity in Nature, where he shows how a unique ultra-fast transmission electron microscope was used at the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel. The microscope is the latest and most versatile of the few that exist in the scientific world.

It is the best near-field optical microscope in the world. With it they can change the color and angle of light that illuminates any sample of nano materials and map their interactions with electrons, as they demonstrated with photonic crystals. In this way they can see the dynamics of light while it is trapped in nano materials, rather than relying on computer simulations.

The photonic crystal traps light in a different pattern for each color of light. This can aid in the design of new quantum materials to store quantum bits with greater stability. Similarly, it can help improve the sharpness of colors on cell phones and other types of displays.

The most advanced displays in the world today use QLED technology, based on quantum points, which allows to control the color contrast in a much higher definition. The challenge is how to improve the quality of these small quantum points on large surfaces and make them more uniform. This will improve screen resolution and color contrast even more than current technologies allow.

The electron microscope has an accelerating voltage that varies from 40 kV to 200 kV (accelerates electrons to 30-70% of the speed of light), and a laser system with pulses less than 100 femtoseconds at 40 watts.

You can learn more about the subject at phys.org.