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Tying Light in Knots [Slide Show]

Newfound solutions to Maxwell’s electromagnetism equations show light can get as tangled as a sailor’s rope

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Knotty Flow Field:

Inducing knots in water allowed the physicists to better understand the subtleties of how fluids flow. Here a computer rendering shows the flow field, designated by red and purple lines, around a liquid trefoil knot, based on an equation called the Biot–Savart law, which describes how an electric current generates a magnetic field.....[ More ]

Knots Superimposed:

Various trefoil knots formed in water were photographed by a high-speed laser scanner and superimposed in different colors. Physicists were able to image the knots by injecting mini gas bubbles into the water and bouncing light off them.....[ More ]

Clover Knot:

This computer rendering shows the type of knot physicists induced in water, called a trefoil knot. The simplest form of knot, the trefoil resembles a shape often used in Celtic imagery, and gets its name from the trefoil plant (aka the three-leaf clover).....[ More ]

Cookie-Cutter Knots:

To induce knots in water the physicists used these tools created via a 3-D printer. When submerged in water and accelerated, the cookie cutter–like shapes created knotted structures in the fluid that varied depending on the unique geometry of the shapes.....[ More ]

Knots of Water:

The same University of Chicago lab, led by William Irvine, also recently discovered a way to tie water up in knots. This photograph shows a basic knotted shape called a trefoil knot made of water, imaged by light scattering off tiny gas bubbles in the liquid.....[ More ]

All Tied Up:

By discovering a new set of solutions to the famous Maxwell equations governing electromagnetism, Hridesh Kedia of the University of Chicago and his colleagues have shown that light can be tied up in knots.....[ More ]

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