A team of Physicists from Masachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have made a new type of mirror, ‘The Perfect Mirror‘ as they call it. We all know that mirrors reflect light (and sound) and we also know that some of the light (signal) is absorbed by the mirror, hence we only get an imperfect reflection. Researchers from MIT’s photonics and electro magnetics department stumbled across this potentially revolutionary discovery almost by accident. While studying the behaviour of a nano patterned silicon wafer that had holes drilled in it, they found out that the holes they made were so small that they could only accommodate a single light wave. On further research they found that red light of a specific wavelength at an angle of 35º reflected perfectly – exactly at right angles.
The announcement by the MIT team was initially greeted with disbelief by scientists, who for generations believed it was impossible to achieve. Another set of researchers from MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering department, Plasma Science and Fusion Center and Physics department report that their “perfect mirror” combines the best characteristics of both metallic and dielectric mirrors. Metallic mirrors work pretty well, but absorb a small fraction of the light that falls on them. For applications where energy loss is an issue we use dielectric mirrors.
One application of such mirrors in in surgery. Rolling the mirrors into spaghetti-thin tubes called “omni guides” can guide light precisely around corners and this is very helpful in laser treatments. Even more promising is the advancements in the field of fiber optics. Usually, the message signal has to be amplified every 20 kilometres or so, but with the use of omni guides, this range can be extended to thousands of kilometres. You could have thousand times the bandwidth! That is a big deal!
You can see the research paper here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7457/full/nature12289.html