Is light made up of waves or particles?

Is light made up of waves or particles? This question has been around for ages. Photons which are particles of light are said to be both particles and waves by quantum theory. Physicists from the University of Bristol have backed up the quantum theory with a new demonstration using a new piece of equipment.

This new piece of equipment is powered by quantum nonlocality. This certifies that the photon behaves simultaneously as a wave and a particle.

Light

Light

There has been a debate about whether light was a wave or particle for some years now. Isaac Newton gave the theory that light consisted of particles whereas James Clerk Maxwell put forward the theory that light was a wave.

Einstein came along in 1905 and showed that the particles in light could be explained to be particles. This discovery greatly contributed to the development of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics by its nature is very hard to understand and predicts the behaviour of small objects, very small objects such as atoms and photons. For example quantum mechanics suggests that a particle such as a photon of light can be in different places at the same time. They can be in one place as a particle and in another place as a wave! This particle can be in infinitely many places at the same time. This is called wave-particle duality.

Wave Interference

Wave Interference

But, the photon is never observed as being a particle and a wave at exactly the same time. Which way the particle goes depends on the type of measurement used. If you think this is weird then yes it is weird but that is quantum mechanics!

To conduct this research scientists used a quantum photonic chip. This chip is leading the way in the approach to build a quantum computer and in the future will allow a more sophisticated study of quantum mechanics (and hopefully some good games as well.

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