A team of applied scientists led by Kerry Vahala recently came up with a new kind of optical soliton waves that are capable of travelling after other soliton waves, taking lift from other waves and consuming their energy while they reach their destination. Solitons are actually a bunch of localized waves that behave as particles as they pass through space, their stick with their shape and size rather than losing their form and getting dispersed like other kinds of waves. A Scottish engineer named John Scott Russell discovered these waves back in 1834. He noted an abnormal kind of wave that took form after an unexpected stoppage of a barge in the Union Canal. He tracked down the resulting waves for about two miles and noted that it kept the shape of the wave safe as it traveled down.
This new discovery was translated as ‘wave of translation’ , in next hundred years it was defined in a better way and given a new name called the ‘Soliton Waves’. Under normal circumstances, these waves dissipated energy as they reached the other end of space. If you toss a stone in a pond, it will result in the formation of some new waves that will die after some time, but the soliton waves wouldn’t. Apart from occurring in water, these waves are also formed in light rays. The team working on it has been working on light solitons. These solitons are circulated again and again in circular circuits of micrometer scale known as optical microcavities.
Solitons are mostly used in the formation of high level optical level that needs to be accurate in a supreme manner. These can also be used in the microwave oscillations that can be used in mapping and radar systems along with several other uses. But years of research could not locate a parasitic behaviour of these waves. It was for the first time someone could locate these this way. Vahala adds, “This new soliton rides along with another soliton—essentially, in the other soliton’s wake. It also syphons energy off of the other soliton so that it is self-sustaining. It can eventually grow larger than its host.”
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