New Rules Illuminate how Objects Absorb and Emit Light

The discovery by Princeton researchers solves a longstanding problem of scale, where light’s behavior when interacting with tiny objects violates well-established physical constraints observed at larger scales. The new rules, published in Physical Review Letters on Dec. 20, tell scientists how much infrared light an object of any scale can be expected to absorb or emit, resolving a decades-old discrepancy between big and small. The work extends a 19th-century concept, known as a blackbody, into a useful modern context. Blackbodies are idealized objects that absorb and emit light with maximum efficiency. Princeton is a NYSERNet member.

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