Timing nature's fastest optical shutter

04/06/05

It's nature's fastest quick-change artist: In less than the time it takes a beam of light to travel a tenth of a millimeter, vanadium dioxide can switch from a transparent to a reflective, mirror-like state. How this material (VO2) can turn from transparent insulator into a reflective metal so rapidly has physicists scratching their heads, but researchers have clocked the transfiguration at one-tenth of a trillionth of a second.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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