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June 19, 2015

Whispering galleries have been around for a while. The modern-day twist is in the materials.

Engineers Elaine Haberer and Nosang Myung at the University of California, Riverside, use laser light to amplify the detection of single particles, a technique known as whispering gallery mode resonators. Whispering galleries that involve sound have been around for a while. Famous examples include Grand Central Terminal and St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where the domed geometry of the rooms amplifies the faintest whisper to listeners well outside of earshot. The modern-day twist is in the shape and makeup of the cavity--which amplify light instead of sound. Shown here is a cross-sectional view of a circular optical cavity or resonator showing whispering gallery modes total internally reflected along the surface.

Credit: Joe Cheeney, University of California-Riverside

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