Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microscopic structure of quantum gases made visible

20.10.2008
Physicists of Mainz University have first managed to plot the distribution of individual gases in the Bose-Einstein condensate / Published in Nature Physics

Scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have, for the first time, succeeded in rendering the spatial distribution of individual atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate visible. Bose-Einstein condensates are small, ultracold gas clouds which, due to their low temperatures, can no longer be described in terms of traditional physics but must be described using the laws of quantum mechanics. The first Bose-Einstein condensates were generated in 1995 by Eric A. Cornell, Carl E. Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work only six years later. Since then, these unique gas clouds, the coldest objects humans ever created, have become a global research object.

Physicists working with Dr Herwig Ott in the study group for quantum, atomic and neutron physics (QUANTUM) at Mainz University have now developed a new tech-nology that can be used to plot the individual atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate. In addition, the spatial resolution achieved during plotting far exceeds any previous methods used. The research results of the Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Group, sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), were published in the professional journal Nature Physics under the title of "High-resolution scanning electron microscopy of an ultracold quantum gas".

This breakthrough was possible due to the use of a high-resolution scanning elec-tron microscope that makes use of a very fine electron beam to scan the ultracold atomic cloud, thus rendering even the smallest structures visible. "The transfer of this technology to ultracold gases was a technical risk," reports Dr Herwig Ott, head of the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group, "as two different techniques had to be combined." Moreover, atoms and molecules move completely freely and ran-domly in gases unlike they do in solids. Another advantage of this highly advanced microscopy process is the better spatial resolution compared with optical processes where the resolution capacity is limited by the wavelength of the light used. "With a resolution of 150 nm, we are able to view these quantum objects with an accuracy that is 10 times higher than has been possible to date," explains Ott.

As electron microscopy made previously unknown parts of our world visible to the viewer, so the technology developed in Mainz has opened up unique possibilities for investigating the microscopic structure of quantum gases. The physicists in Mainz have already reached their first major milestone: They managed to make the structure of a so-called optical lattice visible. Optical lattices are interference patterns comprised of laser beams, which are shone onto the atomic cloud and force their periodic structure onto it. This results in the creation of crystal-like formations. The interesting aspect is that the movement of the atoms in an optical lattice within a quantum gas is similar to the behavior of electrons in solid bodies. Quantum gases are thus able to simulate the physical properties of solid bodies and can therefore also contribute to answering outstanding questions in solid-state physics.

Petra Giegerich | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de
http://www.quantum.physik.uni-mainz.de/ ; http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nphys1102

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Writing and deleting magnets with lasers
19.04.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

nachricht Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source
19.04.2018 | Yokohama National University

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: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>