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First Black Hole For Light Created On Earth 244

An anonymous reader writes "An electromagnetic 'black hole' that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time. The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity. A theoretical design for a table-top black hole to trap light was proposed in a paper published earlier this year by Evgenii Narimanov and Alexander Kildishev of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their idea was to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards."
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First Black Hole For Light Created On Earth

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  • by ScaledLizard ( 1430209 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @08:46AM (#29755743)
    That sucks ...
    • It's a lens. It only affects light (electromagnetic radiation).

      It's a lens, specifically, that bends light into a spiral path that ends in the middle of the lens. It could presumably be used to amplify light into a small point. The same small point, regardless of the way the light strikes the surface of the lens, making it potentially useful for solid-state light gathering.

  • First priority. (Score:5, Informative)

    by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @08:46AM (#29755751)

    They need to stop calling it a black hole or the ignorant masses will decide it's going to end the world.

  • Didn't these guys pay attention to the media? It's the Large Hadron Accelerator that is supposed to create the Earth-destroying black hole...
    • They do, they also saw an article saying that it will always fail due to the Universe not wanting to see a Higgs boson.

      So they manned up and found a way to make the black hole without also making a Higgs boson and hence condemning themselves to failure via time travel.

  • This might very well be the Last Post...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CODiNE ( 27417 )

      Don't worry, the universe itself will travel back and time and prevent it. Think about it... Mr. Universe... time travel. It's Arnold. He's the one stopping the LHC.

  • by jcochran ( 309950 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:13AM (#29756029)

    But I have definite issues with the last paragraph of the article

    Such a device could be used to harvest solar energy in places where the light is too diffuse for mirrors to concentrate it onto a solar cell. An optical black hole would suck it all in and direct it at a solar cell sitting at the core. "If that works, you will no longer require these huge parabolic mirrors to collect light," says Narimanov.

    The article gives no indication that light passing near the device will get sucked into it, but only that all light hitting the device gets sucked into the center. So instead of requiring those huge parabolic mirrors, you'll instead require these huge cylindrical structures. Would still have a nice advantage in that no tracking or steering devices would be required since light hitting it from any side gets "sucked in", but it would still require a considerable amount of real estate to deploy assuming that they can both scale it down (to handle visible light) and scale it up (to make the amount of light absorbed represent a non-trivial amount of power).

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      It could well reduce the total light gathering area needed in low light conditions though. A typical solar cell is not a perfect black. Some fraction of the light reflects back. By capturing all of it you need a smaller area for the same effect. In addition, this could gather light omnidirectionally, a big benefit when the light is diffuse.

    • The article gives no indication that light passing near the device will get sucked into it, but only that all light hitting the device gets sucked into the center. So instead of requiring those huge parabolic mirrors, you'll instead require these huge cylindrical structures.

      No, think about it. All light that intersects the volume of the device from any direction, vs. only light parallel to the optical axis and incident on the concave side of the mirror. It's obvious that this device will collect a lot mo

  • I am curious (Score:2, Interesting)

    i wonder if they checked for gravity/mass/time disturbances?
    • by tibman ( 623933 )

      I am curious why you ask? It didn't occur to me that anything more than EM radiation would have been affected..

  • The first Black Hole invented by man is called Government.
  • The nincompoops who campaigned against the LHC because of its mythical ability to create black holes will be out in force!
  • This could easily be the next smoke rounds. Imagine being able to block light past specific points on a battlefield. You could effectively blind the enemy in darkness, or create soft cover for your movements. It would also absorb laser tracking and targeting devices, leaving many modern weapons systems moot.

    Make no mistake about it, this is a very important technology for the battle field.

    • ... it founders on the usual issue - cost effectiveness. Smoke rounds already do this job very well, and they're bound to be a lot cheaper. They're also a lot easier to emplace (can you imagine firing one of these "black hole" deals out of an artillery piece, and having it get to its destination intact?). I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for this to show up on the battlefield.
    • Except for the fact that these are cylindrical solid structures and are definitely not going to be shrunk down to aerosol particle size. You're not going to get these deployed less conspicuously than a portable wall that has been painted black.

      The materials they use for this are useful for the military, which everyone agreed on when they were first discovered.
  • Tell me it has Ten Chevrons around it and THEN I'll be impressed.
  • Fresnel Lens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by olsmeister ( 1488789 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:32AM (#29756301)

    Narimanov and Kildishev reasoned that it should be possible to build a device that makes light curve inwards towards its centre in a similar way. They calculated that this could be done by a cylindrical structure consisting of a central core surrounded by a shell of concentric rings.

    Superficially, sounds kind of like a Fresnel lens [].

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Superficially, sounds kind of like a Fresnel lens [].

      In the sense that both bend light, yes. Otherwise, not so much. It more closely resembles a super optical fiber. The light is always bent towards the core.

  • by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:34AM (#29756331) Journal

    There's nothing to see.

    Ha! I crack myself up.

  • Article in the current issue of Air and Space magazine [] about this sort of technology and how might be used to create cloaking devices one day.

    Scientists and engineers are trying to emulate that trick by designing materials that could constitute the next-next (or next-next-next) generation of stealth. Some of their ideas sound like they sprang from the imaginations of Gene Roddenberry or J.K. Rowling, with phrases like “cloaking device” and “invisibility carpet” popping up as freque

  • This black hole that sucks up invisible light would go _great_ with the emperor's new clothes. ;)

  • Make tiny black holes with an event horizon of say 1 foot. Then we have the ultimate trashcan. We can dump nuclear wast in it and nothing will come out except for perhaps according to some theories radiation. Which we cannot see or feel so there forth it must be harmless.

  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @10:56AM (#29757515)

    The Chinese paper refers to effectiveness at 18GHz, which just so happens to be in the "K" band of radar frequencies. You know, the one police like to use.

    So all these guys need to do is make a dashboard- or grille-mounted radar absorber to obsolete the radar detector and they'll be so rich they'll forget their ultimate goal of destroying the world or whatever.

  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @11:35AM (#29758063) Homepage

    Are we looking at the next generation of stealth technology?

  • As far as I understand, given that there's no invisibility cloaks working for those frequency and that this is a variation on these device, I doubt the experimenter's claim that they'll be able to build an optical black hole soon..

  • I'm surprised there haven't been any "sounds like my ex-wife" jokes yet.

  • "How much more black could it be? None. None more black."

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"