Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quantum Chaos in Ultracold Gas Discovered

12.03.2014

The team of Francesca Ferlaino, University of Innsbruck, discovered that even simple systems, such as neutral atoms, can possess chaotic behavior, which can be revealed using the tools of quantum mechanics. The ground-breaking research, published in the journal Nature, opens up new avenues to observe the interaction between quantum particles.

The team of Francesca Ferlaino, Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, has experimentally shown chaotic behavior of particles in a quantum gas.


Even simple systems, such as neutral atoms, can possess chaotic behavior.

Photo: Erbium Team, University of Innsbruck

“For the first time we have been able to observe quantum chaos in the scattering behavior of ultracold atoms,” says an excited Ferlaino. The physicists used random matrix theory to confirm their results, thus asserting the universal character of this statistical theory.

Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner formulated random matrix theory to describe complex systems in the 1950s. Although interactions between neutrons with atomic nuclei were not well-known then, Wigner was able to reliably predict properties of complex spectra by using random matrices.

... more about:
»Erbium »Phone »Quantum »chaotic »gases »particles

Today random matrix theory is applied broadly not only in physics but also in number theory, wireless information technology and risk management models in finance to name only a few fields of application. In the Bohigas-Giannoni-Schmit conjecture random matrix theory has been connected to chaotic behavior in quantum mechanical systems.

Catalan physicist Oriol Bohigas, who passed away last year, can be considered the father of quantum chaos research. 

Chaos in the quantum world

To observe quantum chaos, the physicists in Innsbruck cool erbium atoms to a few hundred nanokelvin and load them in an optical dipole trap composed of laser beams. They then influence the scattering behavior of the particles by using a magnetic field.

After holding the atoms in the trap for 400 milliseconds, the researchers record the atom number remaining in the trap. Thus, the scientists are able to determine at which magnetic field two atoms are coupled to form a weakly-bound molecule.

At this magnetic field, so-called Fano-Feshbach resonances emerge. After varying the magnetic field in each experimental cycle and repeating the experiment 14,000 times, the physicists identified 200 resonances.

“We were fascinated by how many resonances of this type we found. This is unprecedented in the physics of ultracold quantum gases,” says Francesca Ferlaino’s team member Albert Frisch. To explain the high density of resonances, the researchers used statistical methods. By using Wigner‘s random matrix theory the scientists are able to show that different molecular levels are coupled. This has also been confirmed by computer simulations conducted by Svetlana Kotochigova’s research group at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

“The particular properties of erbium cause a highly complex coupling behavior between the particles, which can be described as chaotic,” explains Ferlaino. Erbium is relatively heavy and highly magnetic, which leads to anisotropic interaction between atoms. “The electron shell of these atoms do not resemble spherical shells but are highly deformed,” explains Albert Frisch.

“Therefore, the type of interaction between two erbium atoms is significantly different from other quantum gases that have been investigated so far.”

Studying chaos experimentally

In contrast to everyday speech, chaos does not mean disorder for the physicists but rather a well-ordered system that, due to its complexity, shows random behavior. Ferlaino is excited about their breakthrough:

“We have created an experiment that provides a controlled environment to study chaotic processes. We cannot characterize the behavior of single atoms in our experiment. However, by using statistical methods, we can describe the behavior of all particles.”

She compares the method with sociology, which studies the behavior of a bigger community of people, whereas psychology describes the relations between individuals. This work also provides new inroads to the investigation of ultracold gases and, thus, ultracold chemistry.” Ferlaino is convinced: “Our work represents a turning point in the world of ultracold gases.”

The experiment and statistical analysis were carried out at the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck. Theoretical support was provided by John L. Bohn from the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado, USA and the team of Svetlana Kotochigova at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The Austrian researchers are supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF and the European Research Council (ERC). 

Publication: Quantum Chaos in Ultracold Collisions of Erbium. Frisch A, Mark M, Aikawa K, and Ferlaino F, Bohn JL, Makrides C, Petrov A, and Kotochigova S. Nature 2014
DOI: 10.1038/nature13137 [arXiv:1312.1972v1, http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.1972v1]

Contact:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Francesca Ferlaino
Institute for Experimental Physics
University of Innsbruck
Phone: +43 512 507 52440
Email: francesca.ferlaino@uibk.ac.at
http://www.uibk.ac.at/exphys/ultracold/projects/erbium/

Dr. Christian Flatz
Public Relations
University of Innsbruck
Phone: +43 512 507 32022
Email: christian.flatz@uibk.ac.at

Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck

Further reports about: Erbium Phone Quantum chaotic gases particles

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New record in materials research: 1 terapascals in a laboratory
22.07.2016 | Universität Bayreuth

nachricht Mapping electromagnetic waveforms
22.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Mapping electromagnetic waveforms

Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.

Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...

Im Focus: Continental tug-of-war - until the rope snaps

Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases

Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...

Im Focus: A Peek into the “Birthing Room” of Ribosomes

Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis

A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein...

Im Focus: New protocol enables analysis of metabolic products from fixed tissues

Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed a new mass spectrometry imaging method which, for the first time, makes it possible to analyze hundreds of metabolites in fixed tissue samples. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Protocols, explain the new access to metabolic information, which will offer previously unexploited potential for tissue-based research and molecular diagnostics.

In biomedical research, working with tissue samples is indispensable because it permits insights into the biological reality of patients, for example, in...

Im Focus: Computer Simulation Renders Transient Chemical Structures Visible

Chemists at the University of Basel have succeeded in using computer simulations to elucidate transient structures in proteins. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the researchers set out how computer simulations of details at the atomic level can be used to understand proteins’ modes of action.

Using computational chemistry, it is possible to characterize the motion of individual atoms of a molecule. Today, the latest simulation techniques allow...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

GROWING IN CITIES - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Gardening

15.07.2016 | Event News

SIGGRAPH2016 Computer Graphics Interactive Techniques, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California

15.07.2016 | Event News

Partner countries of FAIR accelerator meet in Darmstadt and approve developments

11.07.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Hey robot, shimmy like a centipede

22.07.2016 | Information Technology

New record in materials research: 1 terapascals in a laboratory

22.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

University of Graz researchers challenge 140-year-old paradigm of lichen symbiosis

22.07.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>