Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

WSU researchers confirm 60-year-old prediction of atomic behavior

04.06.2014

Researchers at Washington State University have used a super-cold cloud of atoms that behaves like a single atom to see a phenomenon predicted 60 years ago and witnessed only once since.

The phenomenon takes place in the seemingly otherworldly realm of quantum physics and opens a new experimental path to potentially powerful quantum computing.

Working out of a lab in WSU's Webster Hall, physicist Peter Engels and his colleagues cooled about one million atoms of rubidium to 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. There was no colder place in the universe, said Engels, unless someone was doing a similar experiment elsewhere on Earth or on another planet.

At that point, the cluster of atoms formed a Bose-Einstein condensate - a rare physical state predicted by Albert Einstein and Indian theorist Satyendra Nath Bose - after undergoing a phase change similar to a gas becoming a liquid or a liquid becoming a solid. Once the atoms acted in unison, they could be induced to exhibit coherent "superradiant" behavior predicted by Princeton University physicist Robert Dicke in 1954.

... more about:
»Electrons »Nature »WSU »gases »photons »prediction

"This large group of atoms does not behave like a bunch of balls in a bucket," said Engels. "It behaves as one big super-atom. Therefore it magnifies the effects of quantum mechanics."

Engels' findings appear in the journal Nature Communications. Co-author and collaborator Chuanwei Zhang, a former WSU physicist now at the University of Texas at Dallas, led the theoretical aspects of the work.

Funders include the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the cutting-edge research agency known as DARPA.

Researchers using these super-cold dilute gases have created the superradiant state in only one other situation, said Engels, using a far more complicated experiment involving coupling to photon fields. Because the coupling of atoms and photons is usually very weak, their behavior was extremely hard to observe, he said.

"What our colleague Chuanwei Zhang realized is, if you replaced the light with the motion of the particles, you got exactly the same physics," said Engels. Moreover, it's easier to observe. So while their cloud of atoms measures less than half a millimeter across, it is large enough to be photographed and measured. This gives experimenters a key tool for testing assumptions and changes in the atomic realm of quantum physics.

"We have found an implementation of the system that allows us to go in the lab and actually test the predictions of the Dicke model, and some extensions of it as well, in a system that is not nearly as complicated as people always thought it has to be for the Dicke physics," Engels said.

Ordinary physical properties change so dramatically in quantum mechanics that it can seem like a drawing by M.C. Escher. Photons can be both waves and particles. A particle can go through two spaces at the same time and, paradoxically, interfere with itself. Electrons can be oriented up or down at the same time.

This concurrent duality can be exploited by quantum computing. So where a conventional computer uses 1s and 0s to make calculations, the fundamental units of a quantum computer could be 1s and 0s at the same time. As Wired magazine recently noted, "It's a mind-bending, late-night-in-the-dorm-room concept that lets a quantum computer calculate at ridiculously fast speeds."

Peter Engels | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.wsu.edu

Further reports about: Electrons Nature WSU gases photons prediction

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>