Promoted. This isn't a hoax; meta-materials are an exciting new field. Whether or not this will translate to an affordable and applicable means of light collection remains to be seen, of course. Originally posted 2009-10-17 11:32:55 -0400. -- GH
I can't judge if this is "for real" or not -- I don't mean it's a hoax -- i.e. a feasible technology but this sounds pretty exciting. This report appeared in the New Scientist:. First Black Hole for Light Created on Earth.
An electromagnetic "black hole" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.
The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity.
A theoretical design for a table-top black hole to trap light was proposed in a paper published earlier this year by Evgenii Narimanov and Alexander Kildishev of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their idea was to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards.
Narimanov and Kildishev reasoned that it should be possible to build a device that makes light curve inwards towards its centre in a similar way. They calculated that this could be done by a cylindrical structure consisting of a central core surrounded by a shell of concentric rings.
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Such a device could be used to harvest solar energy in places where the light is too diffuse for mirrors to concentrate it onto a solar cell. An optical black hole would suck it all in and direct it at a solar cell sitting at the core. "If that works, you will no longer require these huge parabolic mirrors to collect light," says Narimanov.