Logo IMG
HOME > My Amsci > Restricted Access

Restricted Access The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.

If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.

If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:


Figure 4. Spectrum of light . . .Click to Enlarge Image

Amazing things can happen inside a tiny transparent sphere, say one that is just 10 micrometers across: Photons can get trapped, bouncing around the interior by total internal reflection, in much the same way that photons are channeled inside optical fibers. In a sphere, the photons orbit around the interior when the frequency of their light is such that an integral number of wavelengths fit into a complete circuit. Photons generated within such a sphere have a strong penchant to travel in such modes, a consequence of the so-called cavity quantum electrodynamic effect. This preference allows a number of interesting applications. A transparent microsphere can, for example, form a particularly efficient laser cavity. It can also function as an optical filter, which could be used to tune into a single signal being carried with many others along a fiber-optic cable. Another future area of application is in biochemical sensing.

Connect With Us:


Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

Read Past Issues on JSTOR

JSTOR, the online academic archive, contains complete back issues of American Scientist from 1913 (known then as the Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.

The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.

View the full collection here.

RSS Feed Subscription

Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.

Write for American Scientist

Review our submission guidelines.

Subscribe to American Scientist