Space the final frontier. As the Starship Enterprise continues its mission in Space, all communications channels are cut unexpectedly owing to an insurmountable nebula. A crew on the popular TV show “science the science” and “tech the technology” needs to escape this in less than 45 minutes or another comparable situation before the credits roll. The University of Rostock scientists has created a novel approach for building artificial materials which transfer light signals, despite spending more time in their labs. Their findings were reported in the journal Science Advances.

“Scattering occurs when light scatters in a heterogeneous medium. This instantly converts a concentrated beam into a diffused glow. It’s a well-known phenomenon in both fall fog and summer clouds. The small density of the material determines the scattering details. The early considerations of Prof. Alexander Szameit of the University of Rostock are described. “The basic notion of tempting transparency, as it’s known,” Szameit explains, “is to exploit obscure optical features to establish a channel for the light beam.”

The second property, also known as non-Hermiticity in Photonics, refers to the energy flow or, more specifically, the attenuation and amplification of light. Non-Hermitian effects are a crucial aspect of modern optics.

Andrea Steinfurth (a doctoral student) is the first writer of this paper. It is possible to modify the beam to dampen or amplify specific areas at microscopic levels to prevent any degradation. It is possible to completely suppress the light scattering properties of the nebula to keep it in the image. Steinfurth says they are currently working on modifying material to get the best transmission of a particular light signal. “To achieve this goal, the energy flow must also be controlled precisely to work with the signal and material like pieces in a puzzle. The Rostock researchers overcame this challenge in close collaboration with their partners at the Vienna University of Technology. They were able to reproduce and observe the microscopic interactions between light signals and their newly developed active material in networks of kilometer-long optical fibers.

Induced transparency is only one of many fascinating possibilities that result from these discoveries. It is essential to prevent scattering from making an object disappear. Light waves must not be disturbed behind the object. However, even in a vacuum of space, diffraction ensures that every signal will change its form. “Our research has provided the formula for structuring material so that light beams pass as though neither the material nor the region it occupies exist. Dr. Matthias Heinrich, the co-author, says that not even the Romulans’ fictitious cloaking devices can achieve this feat.

These findings represent a breakthrough in fundamental research in non-Hermitian lightening and new methods for active fine-tuning sensitive optical systems such as sensors for medical purposes. There are also potential uses for optical encryption and secure data transmission.