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Vol. XXVI, 4th Quarter
October – December 2008

DOST scholar finds new source of coherent light

A SCHOLAR OF THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology has found a new source of coherent light that potentially needs a low amount of power to operate like lasers. The discovery could be the first step in what may be the future of optical communication,

Ryan Balili, a Bachelor of Science in Physics summa cum laude 2002 graduate of Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology along with his adviser David Snoke of University of Pittsburgh demonstrated that the transition of particles into waves could be done at higher temperature, which requires lesser power to generate.

Balili went to college on DOST scholarship. He is currently taking up PhD in Physics at the University of Pittsburgh where he also did his Master of Science in Physics.

The light phenomenon is called Bose-Einstein Condensation (BEC) named after Indian physicist Satyendranath Bose who worked on the statistics of mono-atomic ideal gases, and eminent physicist Albert Einstein who hypothesized this macroscopic coherent state.

Einstein proposed that at very low temperatures a certain type of identical particles, now called bosons, would “collapse” or condense into a single quantum mechanical wave.

However, in Balili’s work, the same phenomenon was demonstrated at higher temperatures using polaritons, an energy particle that exists only in a medium that can be polarized by electromagnetic wave.

Balili said that the main challenge was polariton’s transition into a BEC since polaritons exist only for very short times or approximately a few picoseconds.

Nevertheless, Balili and Snoke were able to trap polaritons that turned into a single spatially compact condensate of gas analogous to atomic BEC.

“One way to think of a polariton BEC is that it is a state of matter that has some of the properties of a laser, and some of the properties of a superconductor,” he said.

Ryan Balili

What they were able to show was polariton BEC’s emitted light and its electrons are coherent, which is a property of superconductors that allows electric current to flow without resistance and wavelike interference of electrical signals.

“This may be useful for signaling, switching, and amplification in optical communications devices,” Balili said.

DOST-Science Education Institute Director Ester B. Ogena said Balili’s discovery is a manifestation of the competence of scholars the DOST is getting every year.

“We are the germination box of soon-to-be great names in the science and technology world. Balili is just one of them, and every year we get around 3,500 scholars who in the future would propel the Philippines into first world status,” she said.

Ogena expressed optimism that more DOST-SEI scholars could achieve advances in science and technology with the implementation of the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP), and the Engineering Research and Development for Technology Program (ERDTP) that provide graduate and post-graduate education scholarships.