University of Adelaide physics researchers have produced the world's most sensitive thermometer – three times more precise than the best thermometers in existence.
Published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers from the University's Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) report they have been able to measure temperature with a precision of 30 billionths of a degree.
Caption: A computer generated image of the Light Thermometer. A slight difference in the speed of the green and red light can tell us the temperature.
Credit: Image by Dr James Anstie, IPAS and School of Chemistry and Physics, University of Adelaide.
"We believe this is the best measurement ever made of temperature − at room temperature," says project leader Professor Andre Luiten, Chair of Experimental Physics in IPAS and the School of Chemistry and Physics, pointing out that it is possible to make more sensitive measurements of temperature in cryogenic environments (at very low temperatures) near absolute zero.
"We've been able to measure temperature differences to 30 billionths of a degree in one second," says Professor Luiten. "To emphasise how precise this is, when we examine the temperature of an object we find that it is always fluctuating. We all knew that if you looked closely enough you find that all the atoms in any material are always jiggling about, but we actually see this unceasing fluctuation with our thermometer, showing that the microscopic world is always in motion."
The paper – Nano-Kelvin Thermometry and Temperature Control: Beyond the Thermal Noise Limit – describes a new and very sensitive, but unorthodox, thermometer that uses light to measure temperature. PhD candidate Wenle Weng carried out the work.
The thermometer injects two colours of light (red and green) into a highly polished crystalline disk. The two colours travel at slightly different speeds in the crystal, depending on the temperature of the crystal.
"When we heat up the crystal we find that the red light slows down by a tiny amount with respect to the green light," Professor Luiten says.
"By forcing the light to circulate thousands of times around the edge of this disk in the same way that sound concentrates and reinforces itself in a curve in a phenomena known as a "whispering gallery" – as seen in St Paul's Cathedral in London or the Whispering Wall at Barossa Reservoir – then we can measure this minuscule difference in speed with great precision."
Professor Luiten says the researchers have developed a new technique which could be redesigned for ultra-sensitive measurements of other things such as pressure, humidity, force or searching for a particular chemical.
"Being able to measure many different aspects of our environment with such a high degree of precision, using instruments small enough to carry around, has the capacity to revolutionise technologies used for a variety of industrial and medical applications where detection of trace amounts has great importance," Professor Luiten says.
The research is supported by the Australian Research Council and the South Australian Government's Premier's Science and Research Fund.
Professor Andre Luiten
Professor of Experimental Physics
Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing
School of Chemistry and Physics
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 2359
Mobile: +61(0) 404 817 168
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084
Andre Luiten | Eurek Alert!
Mainz-based physicists find missing link between glass formation and crystallization
01.07.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Astronomers release spectacular survey of the distant universe
01.07.2016 | University of Nottingham
Densified regions with drastically reduced internal motion either act as crystal precursors or cluster and frustrate all further dynamics
Glasses are neither fluids nor crystals. They are amorphous solids and one of the big puzzles in condensed matter physics. For decades, the question of how...
Since the completion of the human genome an important goal has been to elucidate the function of the now known proteins: a new molecular method enables the investigation of the function for thousands of proteins in parallel. Applying this new method, an international team of researchers with leading participation of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to identify hundreds of previously unknown interactions among proteins.
The human genome and those of most common crops have been decoded for many years. Soon it will be possible to sequence your personal genome for less than 1000...
3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...
R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.
In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...
High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!
In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...
30.06.2016 | Event News
28.06.2016 | Event News
09.06.2016 | Event News
01.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
01.07.2016 | Earth Sciences
01.07.2016 | Medical Engineering