The refractive index characterises the propagation of light in a given material. If it approaches zero, then the light takes on fluid-like aspects. This fact was first demonstrated theoretically in 2020 by an international team of researchers, including Dr Michaël Lobet, FNRS qualified researcher at UNamur.

This work was first published in the renowned journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.. Wishing to put this theoretical discovery into practice, the international consortium moved on to experimental implementation. They directly observed the flow of electromagnetic energy behaving like a non-viscous fluid. This tour de force confirmed the existence of an ideal electromagnetic fluid.

On 12 August this year, the work carried out by the research group of Yue Li, Associate Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering at Tsinghua University, was published again.  The research paper entitled "Direct observation of ideal electromagnetic fluids" appeared in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

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This is an interesting discovery in the context of light information propagation in deformable and low-loss devices. It is also a milestone in the interdisciplinary research field of electromagnetism and fluid mechanics.

The international research team

  • Yue Li - Tsinghua University, China
  • Iñigo Liberal - Public University of Navarra, Spain
  • Michaël Lobet - University of Namur, Belgium
  • Nader Engheta - University of Pennsylvania, USA