Spinning Light Waves Might be 'Locked' for Photonics Technologies

A newly described property related to the "spin" and momentum of light waves suggests potential practical applications in photonic communications and photonic circuits. Scientists already knew that light waves have an electric field that can rotate as they propagate, which is known as the polarization property of light, and that light waves carry momentum in their direction of motion. In new findings, researchers have discovered a "spin-momentum locking," meaning, for example, light waves that spin in a counterclockwise direction can only move forward, and vice versa.
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