Chinese physicists have created an artificial black hole that measures just 8.5 inches across.
The device, which can suck up microwaves of light and convert them into heat, uses "metamaterials," specially engineered materials that can bend light. They're used to manufacture super-clear lenses, among other things.
The black hole bends light not by relying on gravity, but instead by using a series of metallic resonators arranged in 60 concentric circles.
The resonators alter the electric and magnetic fields of a passing light wave, causing it to steer toward the center of the hole, spiraling closer to the center of the black hole until it reaches the 20 innermost layers, where another set of resonators convert the light into heat.
In other words, the light is completely absorbed, and never exits the hole.
There are differences between this black hole and the enormous ones in deep space. For one, the incredible gravity of a true black hole causes it to emit a thermal, quantum glow called "Hawking radiation."
In contrast, the device has no internal source of energy, so it can't emit Hawking radiation.
So what do you do once you've developed your own black hole? One example could be a black hole engineered to suck up light of optical frequencies, for use in more efficient solar cells.
The device was developed by Qiang Chen and Tie Jun Cui of Southeast University in Nanjing, China.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com