Skip to main content

Pretty Physics Picture of the Week

This is an optomechanical resonator, which basically means that the oscillations from light that the structure absorbs can cause it to vibrate. According the authors of the article, Tal Carmon and Kerry J. Vahala of the California Institute of Technology, published in Physical Review Letters, the color bands represent distortion of a micrometre-sized silica sphere mounted at the top of a tiny pillar.

I haven't found anything in the paper to say what the oscillating sphere might be used for, but tiny oscillators are important for all kinds of devices, including the CPU at the heart of your PC, communication systems, and measuring instruments. But I'm only posting this today because it looks cool.


  1. Correction:
    The mechanical vibration is derived by centrifugal pressure of light that is circulating in the sphere. Similar to the force that we feel when our car hits a sharp curve, photons apply centrifugal force. This is because photons as well as moving cars are carrying linear momentum.
    Absorption is not resulting force here.
    Tal Carmon


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?