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A molecule of light and matter

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A very special bonding state between atoms has been created in the laboratory: With a laser beam, atoms can be polarized so that they are positively charged on one side and negatively charged on the other. This makes them attract each other creating a very special bonding state — much weaker than the bond between two atoms in an ordinary molecule, but still measurable. The attraction comes from the polarized atoms themselves, but it is the laser beam that gives them the ability to do so — in a sense, it is a ‘molecule’ of light and matter.


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