Scientists have succeeded in breaking the speed of light by increasing the group speed of the light wave more than 30 percent above the speed of light in the hot plasma. However, technically it is still not possible to say that the speed of light has been exceeded.
Each photon of light travels at a speed of approximately 300,000 kilometers per second, and according to scientists, this speed is also the speed limit of the universe. In other words, it is not possible to move faster than the speed of light.
Although there is no way to change or exceed the speed of light – at least for now – there is a way to manipulate groups of light waves. By doing just that, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the University of Rochester in New York were able to exceed the speed of light with light itself, albeit on a micro scale.
The speed of photons is limited by the lattice of electrical and magnetic fields called electromagnetism. While there is no way to circumvent these boundaries, the low-frequency photon can create regular waves and shake them. The rhythmical rise and fall of all light wave groups creates the group velocity, which is possible to slow down or accelerate this internal velocity depending on the electromagnetic conditions in the environment.
As you can imagine, scientists did not accelerate photons emanating from a standard light source in standard room conditions. By removing electrons from a stream of hydrogen and helium ions with a laser, scientists were able to change the group velocity with light pulses sent by a second light source. Thus, scientists have accelerated the speed of light waves in hot plasma by more than 30 percent.
While the work in question is extremely exciting, it is too early to exceed the speed of light and enable interstellar travel. Technically, scientists still haven’t managed to surpass the speed of light. It is stated that the discovery in question will benefit the development of laser technologies rather than remote technologies. With the development of this study, new generation lasers may turn to technologies that will use plasma flow instead of solid-state optical materials.