Research Highlights

Nature 455, 710 (9 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455710e; Published online 8 October 2008

Physics: Light squeezing

Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 123601 (2008) doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.123601

Physicists at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris have proposed 'squeezing' light in order to measure the distance between objects in space more precisely.

The classic method, called the Einstein protocol, bounces pulses of light between two objects. But, at the quantum level, light is noisy, adding tiny measurement errors that can be significant when extreme accuracy is required.

Brahim Lamine and his colleagues calculate that squeezing light — shaping femtosecond laser pulses so as to reduce noise-inducing quantum fluctuations — might help. If their scheme works, it should provide greater control for positioning future flotillas of spacecraft such as Darwin, or space observatories like LISA — missions that aim to detect and observe Earth-like exoplanets and gravitational waves, respectively.