Tech researcher devises trap for light, featured in international journal

Oct 1, 2013 | Engineering and Science, Research and Development

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Dr. Dentcho Genov, an assistant professor of physics and electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University and a Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) Institute Fellow, is being featured in the most recent issue of “Nature Photonics” for examining the effects of gravitational lensing, or the bending of light, in close proximity to massive stellar objects.

In an article titled, “Trapping Light by Mimicking Gravitational Lensing,” Genov and his colleagues, investigate this phenomenon considered one of the most fascinating predictions of the theory of general relativity.  This is the second time that Genov’s work has been highlighted in “Nature Photonics.”

“By utilizing a microstructured optical waveguide around a microsphere, we propose to mimic curved spacetimes caused by gravity, with high precision,” said Genov.  “We experimentally demonstrate both far-field gravitational lensing effects and the critical phenomenon in close proximity to the photon sphere of astrophysical objects under hydrostatic equilibrium. The proposed microstructured waveguide can be used as an omnidirectional absorber, with potential light harvesting and microcavity applications.”

Dr. Lee Sawyer, director of Louisiana Tech’s physics and chemistry programs, says the work is amazing.

“The bending of light during an eclipse in 1919 was the first proof of Einstein’s general theory of relativity,” explains Sawyer.  “Since then, it has been observed numerous times by the Hubble space telescope and other observatories. To have such an effect produced in the lab is a ‘Star Trek-like’ development that is nothing short of astonishing.”

Genov collaborated with researchers C. Sheng, H. Liu, Y. Wang and S. N. Zhu from the National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures & Department of Physics, and the National Center of Microstructures and Quantum Manipulation at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.

“This recognition confirms that the engineering and science faculty at Louisiana Tech are contributing significantly to relevant and vital science discoveries,” says Dr. Hisham Hegab, interim dean of Louisiana Tech’s College of Engineering and Science.  “Our students are directly benefiting from these outstanding researchers who are also outstanding educators.” Written by Catherine Fraser –