A laser that doesn’t produce light would ordinarily be a failure. After all, the first two letters of laser stand for light amplification, not light reduction.
But a new laser created by scientists at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and JILA, a joint institute of NIST and the University of Colorado at Boulder, shoots beams of night instead of beams of light. The “dark pulses,” as the NIST scientists ominously call them, create areas absent of light.
The research could improve fiber optic communications. Pulses of light fade or degrade over long distances to cause noise and errors. Dark pulses don’t have the same drawbacks, which should improve the transmission and detection of light through fiber optic cables.