Pseudo Black Hole Created in Lab
Photograph of an artificial electromagnetic black hole created in a lab, made out of 60 concentric layers of circuit board.
Credit: Cheng/Cui/Arxiv

Researchers have simulated a mini black hole in the lab, though luckily not the kind that could swallow up the Earth.

This pseudo black hole captures only light, not mass.

"The device we created is not a real black hole, but only a device to mimic the black-hole effect," said researcher Tie Jun Cui, a professor at Southeast University in China. "Actually, the device can trap and absorb the electromagnetic waves which hit the device. Hence we call it as the Electromagnetic Black Hole."

Cui's creation, first reported by Wired Science, is a far cry from the average cosmic variety of black hole, which is an object so dense it absorbs any mass or light that comes within a certain radius of it. The mini black hole in the lab is not nearly so powerful, though it can simulate a black hole's effects when it comes to swallowing light, also known as electromagnetic radiation.

Cui and colleague Qiang Cheng built their ersatz black hole out of circuit board, by linking 60 concentric circular layers of board etched with copper patterns that interact with electromagnetic waves. The result is a device that absorbs all incoming light in the microwave range of the spectrum.

"The electromagnetic black hole can only trap and absorb the incoming electromagnetic waves," Cui wrote in an e-mail. "It cannot trap and absorb other matters as the real black hole."

Another facet of a real black hole that the simulated one does not share - thankfully - is the ability to eat up the Earth: Any true black hole of considerable mass created in a lab could pose a serious risk.

"The device does not have any danger," Cui reassured.

The scientists suggest their invention might be used to harvest energy from the sun by absorbing light rays.

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