At sufficiently cold temperatures, the atoms in a gas can form what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), losing their individual identities and merging into a single quantum state. The phenomenon has fascinated physicists ever since gaseous BECs were created in the laboratory in 1995 (although the possiblity was first postulated some 70 years earlier), and a flurry of recent research has uncovered all kinds of remarkable condensate properties. Now researchers writing in the journal Nature have yet another discovery to add to that list. According to the report, BEC atoms trapped in a thin beam of light and forced to march single file can form atom waves that maintain a constant shape while propagating.
Image: Courtesy of Rice University
In their experiments, Randall G. Hulet of Rice University and his colleagues observed localized wave packets, or solitons, of lithium atoms traveling great distances--over a period of up to several seconds--without spreading. Caravans of up to 15 solitons were detected. The key appears to have been causing the atoms to attract one another, thus offsetting their natural tendency to disperse. Although this represents the first observed instance of so-called bright matter-wave soliton trains, localized wave bundles themselves are well known in high-speed optical communications networks, in which solitons of light enable the transfer of data across great distances without the help of signal boosters.
If youre wondering what, exactly, such atomic soliton trains might be useful for down the road, the short answer is that its difficult to say. The authors speculate, however, that precision measurement applications such as atom interferometry might benefit from an atomic soliton laser, based on solitons like the ones they observed. "Forty years ago no one imagined that lasers would be used to play music in our cars or scan our food at the grocery store checkout," Hulet muses. "Were getting our first glimpse of a wondrous and sometimes surprising set of dynamic quantum phenomena, and theres no way to know exactly what may come of it."
Kate Wong | Scientific American
First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy