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What is this new item in the physicist's armoury? The polariton, or exciton polariton, to give it its full name. How can such a particle be light and matter simultaneously? As is so often the case, the secret lies in the weirdness of quantum physics. Polaritons are not the kind of beasts you can expect to see in the wild. First bred in 1991 by researchers at the University of Tokyo, Japan, they spend the entirety of their short lives in tiny mirrored cages known as semiconductor microcavities.
The 1.1-MJ pulse precisely matched the shape necessary for achieving ignition. The main laser delivered 1.952 MJ of infrared energy.