Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Quantum Simulation 2.0: Atoms Chat Long Distance


In an international first, a research team of experimental physicists led by Francesca Ferlaino and theoretical physicists led by Peter Zoller has measured long-range magnetic interactions between ultracold particles confined in an optical lattice. Their work, published in Science, introduces a new control knob to quantum simulation.

Simulations are a popular tool to study physical processes that cannot be investigated experimentally in detail. For example, scientists are challenged to investigate physical processes in materials since their properties are determined by the interactions of single particles, which are hardly measurable directly.

By using a magnetic field physicists are able to directly change the direction of the mini magnets and precisely control how the particles interact – attracting or repelling each other.

Erbium team/Simon Baier

Conventional computers quickly reach their limits when dealing with these complex simulations. At the beginning of the 1980s, Richard Feynman proposed to simulate these processes in a quantum system to overcome this obstacle.

Two decades later, Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller presented concrete concepts of how quantum processes could be studied by using ultracold atoms confined in optical lattices. In the last few years, this approach has proven itself in practice and is now broadly applied in experiments.

“We are able to control ultracold particles well in experiments and this has provided us with new insights into physical properties,” says Francesca Ferlaino from the Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

In collaboration with Peter Zoller’s team of theoretical physicists, her research team has now extended this approach for quantum simulations and laid the groundwork for future new research: For the first time, the physicists were able to quantitatively measure long-range interactions between magnetic atoms in optical lattices.

Experimental tool box for matter

Many studies have focused on the investigation of the interaction of short-range particles. “In contrast, we are working with strongly magnetic atoms, which can also interact over long distances,” says co-author Manfred Mark. For their experiment the physicists prepared an ultracold gas of erbium atoms – a Bose-Einstein condensate – in a three dimensional optical lattice of laser beams.

In this simulated solid-body crystal, the particles were arranged similar to eggs in a carton. The distance between the particles was seven times their wave function in the Innsbruck experiment. “By using a magnetic field we are able to directly change the direction of the mini magnets and precisely control how the particles interact – attracting or repelling each other,” explains first author Simon Baier.

A search for exotic quantum phases

“Our collaboration with Zoller, Cai Zi and Mikhail Baranov was indispensable for understanding our measurement results comprehensively,” underlines Francesca Ferlaino. “Our work is another important step towards a better understanding of quantum matter of dipolar atoms because their nature is a lot more complex than the atoms used for ultracold quantum gases in other experiments.”

The research results also lay the groundwork for future studies of novel exotic many-body quantum phases such as checkerboard and stripe phases, which may be created by long-range interactions. “Our study opens the door to finally being able to measure these type of phases,” says Simon Baier, who is already looking into the future. “In principle, we should be able to do this in our experiments as well but we will need to cool the atoms even further from currently 70nK to approximately 2nK.”

The research is supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the European Research Council (ERC) among others.

Publication: Extended Bose-Hubbard models with ultracold magnetic atoms. S. Baier, M. J. Mark, D. Petter, K. Aikawa, L. Chomaz, Z. Cai, M. Baranov, P. Zoller, F. Ferlaino. Science 2016
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9812

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Francesca Ferlaino
Institute for Experimental Physics
University of Innsbruck
Phone: +43 676 872552440

Dr. Christian Flatz
Public Relations Office
University of Innsbruck
Phone: +43 512 507 32022
Cell: +43 676 872532022

Weitere Informationen: - Dipolar Quantum Gas Group - Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information - Department of Experimental Physics, University of Innsbruck

Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck

Further reports about: Experimental Physics QUANTUM Simulation magnetic atoms

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1
21.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

nachricht Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems
21.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

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: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>