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Supersymmetry in optics?

One of the most fruitful strategies in optics research is to investigate the implications of concepts and mathematics used in seemingly very different fields of physics. The most dramatic example of this today is the foundation of the field of transformation optics, which uses the mathematical tools of general relativity to create novel optical devices. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, treating matter as an effective “warping” of space has led to the theoretical development of exotic objects such as invisibility cloaks, “perfect” optical illusions, and even optical wormholes.

With this in mind, it was probably inevitable that scientists would tap even more unlikely fields for inspiration. In a recent paper*, researchers at CREOL and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems apply the mathematics of supersymmetry in the design of optical structures.

If you’re not familiar with supersymmetry**, it is best known as a hypothesis in particle physics that literally doubles the number of elementary particles that exist in nature, and serves as one possible extension of the standard model of physics that attempts to provide a unified “theory of almost everything.” It turns out, however, that supersymmetric math can be applied to more mundane problems, including quantum mechanics and optics, the latter of which we consider in this post.

Let’s start with a brief discussion of supersymmetry in particle physics, highlighting those pieces that are relevant for our optics discussion. In the standard model of physics, all of nature can be characterized by the collection of particles illustrated in the figure below, as well as their antiparticles.


Read the rest of this post at SkullsintheStars

Posted: 8/23/2013 2:49:11 PM by Guest Blogger - Greg Gbur | with 0 comments

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