Scientists Have Made Bullets Out of Light

Light beams can be super powerful, but they tend to scatter and lose focus over distance. Bullets are great for aiming at a far-off target, but tend to do a bit more damage than photons. What if you combined the two? You'd have light bullets, which sound like science fiction, but are very recently real.

Scientists in Greece and France teamed up to experiment with ring-Airy beams, a particular shape of light waves that actually focuses itself more intensely as it travels, unlike other light forms that disperse over distance. When a high-intensity light source is focused into precise ring-Airy blips, the beam forms into "light bullets" that travel further and more predictably than even conventional Gaussian laser beams. Just look at that diagram. While the other light forms are dissipating into nothingness, the ring-Airy form is actually getting more focused. It sure looks like a bullet.

More than sounding like pure badass, these light bullets could have great uses in industrial and medical environs. Imagine being able to aim super-precise light bullets at tumors or other tissue in laser ablation procedures. You'd excuse a doctor for muttering "pew pew pew pew pew" during that procedure. [Nature Communications via PhysOrg]