Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Atom-chips’ research wins multi-million pound funding

21.12.2006
Physicists at The University of Nottingham are to use refrigerators made from light that can cool atoms to the lowest temperature in the Universe to develop the next generation of ultra-small electronic devices.

The academics, in collaboration with colleagues at The University of Birmingham, have been awarded almost £6 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the creation of a new Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre.

Academics at the centre will use state-of-the-art laser beams to cool atoms to a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero — which is around 10 billion times colder than temperatures in the Arctic. Cooling the atoms to these temperatures causes them to slow down, changing their behaviour and enabling scientists to harness this area of quantum physics for a range of novel uses.

One such use, to be developed at Nottingham, is the creation of revolutionary ‘atom-chips’, which are similar to micro-chips used in electronic devices such as laptops but work by using magnets to guide entire cold atoms — rather than electrons — around air tracks above the chip like microscopic magnetic levitation trains.

The ‘atom-chips’ can then be used to build high-precision sensors into a range of electronic devices. These could have many applications, for example, in high-precision navigation, underground mapping and oil prospecting and high-performance computers.

Professor Mark Fromhold, of Nottingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Although the atoms are so cold, they have built in quantum heat shields whose performance is equivalent to keeping a snowball frozen at the centre of the sun.”

Colleagues at Birmingham will work on the same area of quantum physics but will concentrate on atoms moving in ‘optical lattices’, crystals made from light.

The funding for the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre comes from the third round of Science and Innovation Awards from the EPSRC, which is funding research projects across the UK to the tune of £31 million.

The money will be used to fund lecturers, postdoctoral fellows, research students, new technical posts, equipment and laboratory refurbishment.

Science and Innovation Awards were introduced by the EPSRC in 2005 to support strategic areas of research that are particularly at risk. In a changing research landscape, as undergraduates choose new options, more traditional core subjects are encountering declining numbers of entrants. This in turn affects the base of academic staff in the UK’s universities, which impacts on the nation’s capacity to produce the well-trained people and research leaders of the future.

Dr Randal Richards, Interim Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “The latest Science and Innovation Awards announced today are a component of EPSRC’s activities to ensure a future healthy and vibrant research base for the UK. These awards are made in partnership with the Funding Councils of England, Scotland and Wales and are focused on ensuring that strategic research areas will have the necessary leadership capacity to ensure that future generations of researchers are available in the UK.”

The projects will create new centres of research activity in their respective fields in existing research environments that are encouraging and supportive of innovative approaches. These centres will have the critical mass to make major research progress. They will aim to stimulate research in the UK and international community and, where appropriate, to encourage innovation in UK business and industry. They will increase the output of trained scientists in their respective science areas.

The Midlands Ultracold Atoms Research Centre is the first phase in a drive to create a new Midlands Physics Alliance involving the two universities and The University of Warwick, which will bring together leaders in the field of physics with overseas collaborators and develop a new programme of courses and training for postdoctoral students across all the institutions.

Emma Thorne | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht MEMS chips get metatlenses
21.02.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht International team publishes roadmap to enhance radioresistance for space colonization
21.02.2018 | Biogerontology Research Foundation

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: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>