Unknown strange light wave detected

A previously unknown type of light wave has been discovered by scientists, based on pioneering work by a 19th-century Scottish scientist.

The theory of light waves has been proposed by many scientists hundreds of years ago. Among them is Isaac Newton’s “Particle Theory of Light” (17th century), which states that the flow of light is the flow of matter particles ; Christiaan Huygens’ “wave theory of light” (17th century) suggested that the flow of light is the propagation of waves.

Unknown strange light wave detected
The new light wave phenomenon Dyakonov-Voigt offers useful applications, such as improving biosensors used to screen blood samples or developing fiber optic circuits that transmit data more efficiently – (Photo : Petr Kratochvil).

Meanwhile, Thomas Young’s “Transverse Light Wave Theory” (1817) suggested that light waves are transverse, not longitudinal, oscillations perpendicular to the direction of propagation, but not to the direction of propagation.

Then, in 1865, James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory reaffirmed the wave nature of light that light was only a special case of electromagnetic waves . Later experiments on electromagnetic waves were partly based on this theory and confirmed its accuracy.

Based on the work of James Clerk Maxwell, scientists and engineers from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and Pennsylvania State University (USA) have recently discovered a new light wave (named Dyakonov- Voigt) by analyzing how light travels as a wave when interacting with certain natural or man-made crystals.

The team found that Dyakonov-Voigt waves are generated at a specific area where the crystals come into contact with another material, like oil or water. These waves can only be produced using certain types of crystals whose optical properties depend on the direction in which light passes through them.

The unique properties of Dyakonov-Voigt waves are determined by mathematical models incorporating equations formulated by James Clerk Maxwell. The team found that the Dyakonov-Voigt waves diminished as they left the contact area. This process is called light decay and only goes in one direction. Other “surface waves” decay faster and travel in many directions.

Dr Tom Mackay (University of Edinburgh’s Department of Mathematics), said the Dyakonov-Voigt waves represent a step forward in our understanding of how light interacts with complex materials and provide the opportunity for a series of technology future advancements.