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 Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays
18.08.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>