Solid light

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Solid light, often referred to in media as "hard light" or "hard-light", is a hypothetical material, made of light in a solidified state. It has been theorized that this could exist,[1][2] and experiments claim to have created solid photonic matter or molecules by inducing strong interaction between photons.[3][4][5] Potential applications of this could include logic gates for quantum computers[4] and room-temperature superconductor development.[3]


In theory, photons, the particles that make up forms of electromagnetic radiation like light, may be attracted in a nonlinear medium.[6]

The MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms conducted experiments in the 2010s. Single photons were fired from weak lasers into a dense cloud of rubidium cooled to near absolute zero. The speed of light in the cloud was about 100,000 times slower than in a vacuum. Within the cloud, photons lost energy and gained mass. The conditions allowed photons to attract and bind to other photons, and exit the cloud as molecules. Reportedly, photon pairs were observed in 2013, and triplets in 2018.[4][5]


Solid light appears in many video game franchises, including Halo, Portal, Destiny and Overwatch. In Portal 2 sunlight is used to create hard light bridges, which act as solid semi-translucent walkways or barriers.[7] In Overwatch a fictional company called Vishkar uses solid light to create cities and make bridges, turrets, portals, shield generators, barriers and weaponry.

Solid holograms appear in many works in the Star Trek media franchise.[8][non-primary source needed] In "Red Dwarf", the character Rimmer is a hologram who obtains a hard light drive, allowing him to touch and feel while being almost indestructible. In Steven Universe, the Gems are a fictional alien race consisting of magical gemstones that project humanoid physical bodies made of solid light. In the webseries RWBY, the character Velvet Scarlatina uses a handheld camera to 3D print photographed weapons, made out of hard-light Dust. In DC Comics's Green Lantern, the various Lantern Corps use solid light constructs. It is also portrayed in The Lightbringer series by fantasy author Brent Weeks[citation needed] , in Ms. Marvel[citation needed] and in Dr. Strange.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ University of Melbourne (7 May 2007). "Could Light Behave As A Solid? A New Theory". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  2. ^ Raftery, J.; Sadri, D.; Schmidt, S.; Türeci, H. E.; Houck, A. A. (8 September 2014). "Observation of a Dissipation-Induced Classical to Quantum Transition". Physical Review X. 4 (3): 031043. arXiv:1312.2963. Bibcode:2014PhRvX...4c1043R. doi:10.1103/physrevx.4.031043. ISSN 2160-3308.
  3. ^ a b Freeman, David (16 September 2014). "Scientists Say They've Created A Freaky New Form Of Light". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Reuell, Peter (27 September 2013). "Seeing light in a new way". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Chu, Jennifer (15 February 2018). "Physicists create new form of light". MIT News. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  6. ^ Firstenberg, Ofer; Peyronel, Thibault; Liang, Qi-Yu; Gorshkov, Alexey V.; Lukin, Mikhail D.; Vuletić, Vladan (25 September 2013). "Attractive photons in a quantum nonlinear medium" (PDF). Nature. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 502 (7469): 71–75. Bibcode:2013Natur.502...71F. doi:10.1038/nature12512. hdl:1721.1/91605. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 24067613. S2CID 1699899.
  7. ^ "Hard Light Bridge - Portal Wiki". Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  8. ^ "Meet the Man Behind the Holodeck, Part 1".