By William Brown, Biophysicist at the Resonance Science Foundation
Researchers studying the wave propagation of light in nonlocal, nonlinear media have observed that it behaves the same as waves in water. The researchers observed optical soliton interactions that produce complex waveforms. A soliton or solitary wave is a self-reinforcing wave packet that maintains its shape while it propagates at a constant velocity.
A soliton is a unique kind of wave that is much more stable than ordinary waves and can propagate for long distances, so much so that even after collisions these solitary waves continue propagating nearly unperturbed. Soliton waves can often be observed naturally occurring in shallow areas of water, and indeed, in the latest study, researchers demonstrated that the same equation—the Kadomtsev-Petvishvili II equation—that models water solution interactions can also be used to model optical solution interactions in the exact same way, revealing that the same wave dynamics of water are found in light.
While the wave-nature of light has been well documented and observed in myriad phenomena, this is the first description of light behaving as solitons. This is an important advancement because understanding the wave-nature of light, and the various ways in which waves can behave that produce unusual qualities, can be used to explain confounding observations like the double-slit experiment using simple wave-dynamics.
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Reference article: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspa.2019.0110
Reference article: https://resonancefdn.oldrsf.com/liquid-light-at-room-temperature/