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Controlling Light Reflection

When beams of light hit a pool of water, they produce beautiful, seemingly random patterns on surrounding surfaces. This "caustic" effect is well-known and easy to observe. This effect, which is very mobile and dynamic in liquid, produces static patterns with solid transparent materials such as glass or transparent acrylic. Scientists at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an algorithm to control these patterns and organize them into coherent images. The work could open the door to interesting new applications in architecture as well as in automotive lighting.