Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Look but don't touch

13.05.2013
ICFO researchers present a non-destructive technique for measuring at the atomic scale

Improving our understanding of the human brain, gathering insights into the origin of our universe through the detection of gravitational waves, or optimizing the precision of GPS systems- all are difficult challenges to master because they require the ability to visualize highly fragile elements, which can be terminally damaged by any attempt to observe them. Now, quantum physics has provided a solution.

In an article published in Nature Photonics, researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) report the observation of a highly fragile and volatile body through a new quantum-mechanical measurement technique.

Researchers from the group led by Morgan Mitchell applied the so-called "quantum non-demolition measurement" to a tiny cloud of atoms. They were able to observe the spinning of the electrons in the atoms, and more importantly, the atom cloud was not disturbed in the process. It is the first time quantum non-demolition measurement has been demonstrated with any material object. The same method could be extended to permit the observation of individual atoms.

In the experiment, scientists prepared light pulses with photons in complementary states, and then sent them through the cloud of atoms, measuring their polarization on the way out. "A first measurement gives us information reflecting the action of the first light pulse. A second measurement, taken with photons in a complementary state from the first, cancels the influence of the preliminary pulse, allowing us to observe the original characteristics of the object," explains Dr. Robert Sewell, researcher at ICFO. This process has enabled the team to gather precise information on the magnetic field of the atom's surroundings.

The information obtained exceeds the so-called "standard quantum limit", which quantifies the maximum amount of information obtainable with any traditional probing. Two achievements made this possible. On one hand, researchers were able to structure the observation so that the noise resulting from the visualization was shifted away from the object being measured and into a different variable. In addition, they introduced quantum statistical correlations among the atoms so that they were able to gather in one measurement what previously they needed a collection of measurements to observe. "This experiment provides rigorous proof of the effectiveness of quantum physics for measuring delicate objects" concludes Sewell.

Link to the paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NPHOTON.2013.100

About ICFO:

ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences conducts research targeting the forefront of the science and technology of light, with programs directed at applications in Health, Renewable Energies, Information Technologies, Security and Industrial processes, among others. The center hosts 250 researchers working in 60 different laboratories. All research groups and facilities are located in a dedicated 14.000 m2 building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Albert Mundet | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.icfo.eu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information
21.07.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion
21.07.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>