Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists create world's smallest engine

22.08.2019

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.


The world's smallest engine works due to its intrinsic spin, which converts heat absorbed from laser beams into oscillations, or vibrations, of the trapped ion.

Credit: Professor Goold, Trinity College Dublin.


The QuSys research group from Trinity College Dublin's School of Physics, with Professor John Goold pictured in back row, first left.

Credit: Professor John Goold, Trinity College Dublin.

The research, published today in international journal Physical Review Letters, explains how random fluctuations affect the operation of microscopic machines. In the future, such devices could be incorporated into other technologies in order to recycle waste heat and thus improve energy efficiency.

The engine itself - a single calcium ion - is electrically charged, which makes it easy to trap using electric fields. The working substance of the engine is the ion's "intrinsic spin" (its angular momentum). This spin is used to convert heat absorbed from laser beams into oscillations, or vibrations, of the trapped ion.

These vibrations act like a "flywheel", which captures the useful energy generated by the engine. This energy is stored in discrete units called "quanta", as predicted by quantum mechanics.

"The flywheel allows us to actually measure the power output of an atomic-scale motor, resolving single quanta of energy, for the first time," said Dr Mark Mitchison of the QuSys group at Trinity, and one of the article's co-authors.

Starting the flywheel from rest -- or, more precisely, from its "ground state" (the lowest energy in quantum physics) -- the team observed the little engine forcing the flywheel to run faster and faster. Crucially, the state of the ion was accessible in the experiment, allowing the physicists to precisely assess the energy deposition process.

Assistant Professor in Physics at Trinity, John Goold said: "This experiment and theory ushers in a new era for the investigation of the energetics of technologies based on quantum theory, which is a topic at the core of our group's research. Heat management at the nanoscale is one of the fundamental bottlenecks for faster and more efficient computing. Understanding how thermodynamics can be applied in such microscopic settings is of paramount importance for future technologies."

###

Professor Goold's QuSys group is supported by a recently awarded ERC Starting Grant and an SFI-Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

The groundbreaking experiment was carried out by a research group led by Professor Ferdinand Schmidt-Kaler and Dr Ulrich Poschinger of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Media Contact

Thomas Deane
deaneth@tcd.ie
353-189-64685

 @tcddublin

http://www.tcd.ie/ 

Thomas Deane | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/?p=54363&preview=true

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The measurements of the expansion of the universe don't add up
19.11.2019 | FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

nachricht How LISA pathfinder detected dozens of 'comet crumbs'
19.11.2019 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Atoms don't like jumping rope

Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.

By controlling individual atoms, quantum properties can be investigated and made usable for technological applications. For about ten years, physicists have...

Im Focus: Images from NJIT's big bear solar observatory peel away layers of a stellar mystery

An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.

With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

How LISA pathfinder detected dozens of 'comet crumbs'

19.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

19.11.2019 | Social Sciences

The evolution and genomic basis of beetle diversity

19.11.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>