Reflections accompany us every day, for example when we look in the mirror or watch the sea waves hitting the breakwater. But time reversals work very differently. To understand it, we need to make a simple transformation of how a wave behaves and the medium through which it travels.
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As explained by the authors of the publication published in: Nature physicsDuring the experiments they changed the dielectric constant of the metamaterial. This allowed the transmission of reflected electromagnetic waves over time. The signal carried by these waves is reversed and its frequency is expanded.
Their achievements are important for at least two reasons: First, they were able to confirm what physicists had assumed for several decades. Practical benefits include greater control over the way waves and matter interact. In the long term, this creates the possibility of replacing electricity with light in the world of computers, which should translate into an increase in their efficiency and improved wireless communications.
Time reversals have been considered theoretically for several decades. Recently, the first measurements were made
While the change in frequency caused by time reflections is relatively straightforward, time reflection of the wave is a bit more problematic. In the first case, we are talking about a change in wavelength, which can be compared, for example, to the redshift observed in distant galaxies. The phenomenon of reflection itself is related to time crystals. The latter are characterized by the presence of structures in which patterns are repeated over time. The problem is that time reversal requires a change in the properties of the medium at a frequency greater than twice the frequency of the wave. This leads to complications.
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As Jingyu Xu, a member of the research team, explains, the big obstacle to measuring time reversals so far has been the misconception that doing so requires large amounts of energy. Changing the properties of the medium quickly, evenly, and with enough contrast has been a major challenge because of how quickly electromagnetic signals oscillate. Using metamaterials, these problems were avoided by making the first measurements of time reversals and associated interferences. The next phase of research should provide more information about practical applications of this technology. The benefits can be truly invaluable.
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