Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Physicists rotate beams of light: The polarization of light can change, when it passes through a material in a strong magnetic field. This phenomenon is known as the “Faraday effect”. “So far, however, this effect had only been observed in materials in which it was very weak”, professor Andrei Pimenov explains. He carried out the experiments at the Institute for Solid State Physics of the TU Vienna, together with his assistant Alexey Shuvaev. Using light of the right wavelength and extremely clean semiconductors, scientists in Vienna and Würzburg could achieve a Faraday effect which is orders of magnitude stronger than ever measured before. Now light waves can be rotated into arbitrary directions – the direction of the polarization can be tuned with an external magnetic field.