Joint ICTP/SISSA Statistical Physics seminar:
Series of lectures on: 'Singularities and asymptotics'
"Conical diffraction: Imaging Hamilton's diabolical point"
Starts 22 May 2008 15:30
Ends 22 May 2008 20:00
Central European Time
Lecture room 'D', SISSA Main Bldg.
The transformation of a narrow beam into a hollow cone when incident along the optic axis of a biaxial crystal, predicted by Hamilton in 1832, created a sensation when observed by Lloyd soon afterwards. It was possibly the first prediction of a qualitatively new phenomenon using mathematics, the first application of the concept of phase space, and the prototype of the conical intersections now popular in quantum chemistry. But the fine structure of the light cone contains many subtle features, slowly revealed by experiment, whose definitive explanation, involving new mathematical asymptotics, has been achieved only recently, along with definitive experimental test of the theory. Radically different phenomena, being intensively studied now, arise when chirality and absorption are incorporated in addition to biaxiality.