Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists slow and control supersonic helium beam

12.03.2007
Slow helium beam technique is a breakthrough in the field of atomic optics

The speed of a beam of helium atoms can be controlled and slowed using an "atomic paddle" much as a tennis player uses a racquet to control tennis balls, physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered.

The slow helium beam technique—a breakthrough in the field of atom optics—could someday be used to better probe microscopic surfaces or create advanced navigation systems.

"The slow beam is an enabling technology," said Dr. Mark Raizen, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Physics. "The next step is to do science with the beams."

Raizen and his colleagues at the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics created the slow helium beams using a yard-long, rapidly spinning titanium blade tipped with silicon wafers that Raizen calls an atomic paddle.

He and his colleagues pumped puffs of super-cooled helium gas into a vacuum chamber containing the paddle using supersonic beam technology developed by Professor Uzi Even of Tel-Aviv University. The paddle's silicon wafers reflected the helium atoms much like a glass mirror reflects a beam of light.

Just as the energy of a tennis ball is absorbed by the motion of a tennis racquet, the motion of the paddle absorbed the energy from the helium beam. The beam was slowed to 560 miles per hour, less than one-eighth the normal velocity of helium.

Raizen's slow beam work is important to understanding the interaction between an atom and a surface, a fundamental aspect of physics that has been investigated since the pioneering work of Otto Stern in 1930. Scientists can bounce atoms off a surface and observe the scattered atoms to learn about the properties of the atoms and the surface.

To date, the main disadvantage of using helium to probe surfaces has been that it typically moves very quickly, nearly 4,500 miles per hour at room temperature. When helium hits a surface at a very high velocity, it tends to scatter in many directions, making it more difficult to observe the atoms after impact and limiting its practical use as a probe.

Slow beams could someday be used in advanced navigation systems with gyroscopes, like those found in airplanes, submarines, space probes and the International Space Station. Gyroscopes allow an object to maintain its orientation or balance, even in outer space.

A gyroscope system based on atoms would have a much higher sensitivity than gyroscope systems that use lasers, said Raizen.

He said that the atomic paddle method could be used in the future to produce even slower helium atoms and ultimately to stop and trap them.

Mark Raizen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

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

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>