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The research team shows a fractal laser light

An intersection of a fractal model, created by a laser in the structured light of Wits. Credit: Wits University

Fractal patterns are common in nature, including skeletal pattern geometry patterns, shell structure, leafy foliage plants that repeat to create a complex pattern, as well as the model of windscreen ice in winter.

The fractals have a distinctive characteristic of repetitive geometry with a structure of multiple scales, and are found everywhere, from novel broccoli to ferns, and even on larger sizes such as salt, mountains, coastlines and clouds. The forms of trees and mountains are also self-similar, so a branch looks like a small tree and a rocky appearance like a small mountain.

In the past two decades, scientists predict that a fractal light can be created with a laser. With its high-polished spherical mirrors, the laser is almost precisely the opposite of nature, so it was a surprise when, in 1998, researchers predicted fractal light bundles emitted from a laser class. Now, a team from South Africa and Scotland have shown that the fractal light can be created by a laser, confirming the prediction of two decades.

Apply this month to Physical examination A, the team provides the first experimental evidence for a fractal light from simple lasers and adds a new prediction: the fractal model should exist in 3-D, and not just 2-D, as previously thought.

Several patterns of fractal light, created by a laser in the structured light of Wits. Credit: Wits University

Nature creates such "models in models" from many recursions to a simple rule, for example, to create a snowflake. Computer programs also make fractals by repeating the cycle through the rule, famously making an abstract set of Mandelbrough.

The light inside the lasers also cycles back and forth, jumping between the mirrors of each nail, which can be set to capture the light inside of each round trip. This looks just like a recursive cycle, repeating a simple rule over and over again. The picture means that every time the light returns to the plane of the picture, it is a smaller (or greater) version of what was: a template within the model within the model.

Fractals have applications in images, networks, antennas, and even medicine. The team expects that the discovery of fractal forms of light that can be made directly from a laser should open up new applications and technologies based on these exotic conditions in structured light.

"Fractals are a truly fascinating phenomenon associated with what is known as chaos," said Professor Andrew Forbes of the University of Witwatersrand, who led the project alongside Professor Johannes Cortial of the University of Glasgow. "In the world of popular science, chaos is known as the" Butterfly Effect, "where a slight change in one place makes a big change elsewhere – for example, a butterfly that strikes its wings in Asia causes a hurricane in the United States. is true. "

The laser instrument is used to create fractal patterns of light. Credit: Wits University

In explaining the discovery of the fractal light, Forbes explains that his team has realized the importance of looking for fractals in a laser. "Look at the wrong place in the laser and you see only a blotched capsule of light. Look at the right place where the picture is going, and you see fractals."

The project combines the theoretical expertise from the Glasgow team with experimental validation in South Africa from Wits and CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research). The initial version of the experiment was built by Dr. Daril Nido (CSIR and Wits), and completed with Hend Srohr (Wits) as part of her doctoral dissertation.

"What's incredible is that, as predicted, the only condition for demonstrating the effect is a simple laser with two polished spherical mirrors. It was constantly there, it's just hard to see if you do not see the right place," said Sudski.

Explore further:
Beautiful mathematics of fractals

More information:
Hend Srore et al., Fractal light from lasers, Physical examination A (2019). DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevA.99.013848

Reference in the newspaper:
Physical examination A

Provided by:
University of Wits

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