Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quantum analog of Ulam's conjecture can guide molecules, reactions

08.08.2007
Like navigating spacecraft through the solar system by means of gravity and small propulsive bursts, researchers can guide atoms, molecules and chemical reactions by utilizing the forces that bind nuclei and electrons into molecules (analogous to gravity) and by using light for propulsion. But, knowing the minimal amount of light required, and how that amount changes with the complexity of the molecule, has been a problem.

Now, by creating a quantum mechanical analog of Ulam's conjecture, researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of California have expanded the flexibility and controllability of quantum mechanical systems.

"Using photons, we can harness chaotic motion to control chemical reactions and to move quantum objects, such as nanoclusters, molecules and buckyballs," said Martin Gruebele, a William H. and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry, and the director of the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology at Illinois.

Gruebele and co-author Peter Wolynes, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, describe their work in a paper accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters and posted on the journal's Web site.

Given sufficient time, classical chaotic motion will spontaneously connect two points in phase space with arbitrary precision. In 1956, American mathematician Stanislaw Ulam conjectured that owing to this phase space-filling aspect of chaotic trajectories, a minimal series of energy expenditures would suffice to transfer a body from one point to another much more rapidly than by spontaneous motion.

Ulam's conjecture is now routinely used to steer spacecraft around the solar system with minimal energy expenditure.

"The idea is that a complex system like our solar system has lots of planets, moons, and asteroids that can fling spacecraft gravitationally anywhere you want," said Gruebele, who is also a professor of physics and biophysics, and a researcher at the Beckman Institute. "Rather than powering a rocket on a brute force, direct route, you can shoot your spacecraft near some moon, and let the moon do most of the work."

Using photons as an energy source, electrons within molecules can move in much the same way as spacecraft in the solar system. But, there is a hitch: Quantum mechanics, not Newtonian dynamics, must be used to describe the motions. In quantum mechanics, the system is described by a wave function, or quantum state.

In their quantum mechanical analog of Ulam's conjecture, Gruebele and Wolynes show there are limits on how efficiently an external force can nudge a system from a given initial state to a target state. They use the concept of a "state space" to describe all the possible quantum states of the system.

"We can calculate where this initial state will most likely go, and we can calculate where the target state will most likely come from,"

Gruebele said. "We can then identify places in state space where the two are closest to one another."

Those locations are where energy is most efficiently applied to perform the desired quantum transformation from initial state to target state. The researchers' equations also tell them how many photons are needed, and set fundamental limits on the time required.

"We can wait for the best possible moment to use the least amount of energy," Gruebele said. "What we have is a fast and accurate method for computing the most efficient way of steering a quantum system between two specified states."

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation

James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Subnano lead particles show peculiar decay behavior
25.04.2018 | Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald

nachricht Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor
25.04.2018 | 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: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

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...

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

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>