Scientists say they have made a major step towards being able to transform materials using just light.
The new breakthrough is a step towards the creation of things such as windows that can turn instantly into mirrors, or high-speed computers that use light rather than electricity, and many more besides.
Scientists have long had hopes for the use of lasers in shaping and sculpting materials. But they have been held back by heat, which is generated through the process and damages whatever they are trying to use the lasers on.
“These tools could let you transform the electronic properties of materials at the flick of a light switch,” says Caltech Professor of Physics David Hsieh. “But the technologies have been limited by the problem of the lasers creating too much heat in the materials.”