Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mathematicians can conjure matter waves inside an invisible hat

30.05.2012
Invisibility, once the subject of magic or legend, is slowly becoming reality.

Over the past five years mathematicians and other scientists have been working on devices that enable invisibility cloaks – perhaps not yet concealing Harry Potter, but at least shielding small objects from detection by microwaves or sound waves.


This graphic shows a matter wave hitting a Schrödinger's hat. The wave inside the container is magnified. Outside, the waves wrap as if they had never encountered any obstacle. Credit: G. Uhlmann, U. of Washington

A University of Washington mathematician is part of an international team working to understand invisibility and extend its possible applications. The group has now devised an amplifier that can boost light, sound or other waves while hiding them inside an invisible container.

"You can isolate and magnify what you want to see, and make the rest invisible," said corresponding author Gunther Uhlmann, a UW mathematics professor. "You can amplify the waves tremendously. And although the wave has been magnified a lot, you still cannot see what is happening inside the container."

The findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As a first application, the researchers propose manipulating matter waves, which are the mathematical description of particles in quantum mechanics. The researchers envision building a quantum microscope that could capture quantum waves, the waves of the nanoworld. A quantum microscope could, for example, be used to monitor electronic processes on computer chips.

The authors dubbed their system "Schrödinger's hat," referring to the famed Schrödinger's cat in quantum mechanics. The name is also a nod to the ability to create something from what appears to be nothing.

"In some sense you are doing something magical, because it looks like a particle is being created. It's like pulling something out of your hat," Uhlmann said.

Matter waves inside the hat can also be shrunk, though Uhlmann notes that concealing very small objects "is not so interesting."

Uhlmann, who is on leave at the University of California, Irvine, has been working on invisibility with fellow mathematicians Allan Greenleaf at the University of Rochester, Yaroslav Kurylev at University College London in the U.K., and Matti Lassas at the University of Helsinki in Finland, all of whom are co-authors on the new paper.

The team helped develop the original mathematics to formulate cloaks, which must be realized using a class of engineered materials, dubbed metamaterials, that bend waves so that it appears as if there was no object in their path. The international team in 2007 devised wormholes in which waves disappear in one place and pop up somewhere else.

For this paper, they teamed up with co-author Ulf Leonhardt, a physicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and author on one of the first papers on invisibility.

Recent progress suggests that a Schrodinger's hat could, in fact, be built for some types of waves.

"From the experimental point of view, I think the most exciting thing is how easy it seems to be to build materials for acoustic cloaking," Uhlmann said. Wavelengths for microwave, sound and quantum matter waves are longer than light or electromagnetic waves, making it easier to build the materials to cloak objects from observation using these phenomena. "We hope that it's feasible, but in science you don't know until you do it," Uhlmann said. Now that the paper is published, they hope to find collaborators to build a prototype.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation in the U.S., the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Royal Society in the U.K., and the Academy of Finland.

For more information, contact Uhlmann at 206-543-1946 or gunther@math.washington.edu. He is on leave at UC Irvine through the end of June.

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uw.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>