Researchers Spot Fractals in Laser Light

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A group of physicists from Wits University found the presence of fractals in laser light and they measured its brightness in a 2-D slice sheet.

Fractals are complex, self-repeating patterns which are generally seen in nature ranging from spiral-shaped seashells to heads of cauliflower. Previously, around 20 years ago researchers predicted that this type of pattern (fractals) could appear in light from certain types of lasers. However, this phenomena were not seen by any one until now. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Physical Review A on January 25, 2019.

The typical laser consists of a depression with mirrors attached at both ends, where the light bounces to and fro, with the help of a crystal that amplifies the light. However, the presence of lasers in laser light has baffled scientists due to the simplicity of lasers. Whereas the fractals are known for its complexity.

“In lasers, it is really very surprising to find fractals,” says physicist Johannes Courtial of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, a coauthor of the study.

The researchers found that a pattern of bright and dark spots of light is imprinted by an aperture, which makes the lasers of a particular sized hole inside the mirrored cavity. This light passes through the both ends and bounces back and forth, creating a dappled pattern, which enlarges with each bounce. Thus, a magnified pattern is developed, creating the same shape on small and large scales, thus forming a fractal.

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Latisha Diaz is a general assignment reporter at Plains Gazette. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in his journalism career, and has lived in City Houston for more than 8 years. Latisha has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) The National Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.