by Anil Ananthaswamy
An electromagnetic "black hole" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.
The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity.
A theoretical design for a table-top black hole to trap light was proposed in a paper published earlier this year by Evgenii Narimanov and Alexander Kildishev of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their idea was to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards.
Narimanov and Kildishev reasoned that it should be possible to build a device that makes light curve inwards towards its centre in a similar way. They calculated that this could be done by a cylindrical structure consisting of a central core surrounded by a shell of concentric rings.
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