Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quantum gas microscope offers glimpse of quirky ultracold atoms

06.11.2009
Research creates a readout system for quantum simulation and computation

Physicists at Harvard University have created a quantum gas microscope that can be used to observe single atoms at temperatures so low the particles follow the rules of quantum mechanics, behaving in bizarre ways.

The work, published this week in the journal Nature, represents the first time scientists have detected single atoms in a crystalline structure made solely of light, called a Bose Hubbard optical lattice. It's part of scientists' efforts to use ultracold quantum gases to understand and develop novel quantum materials.

"Ultracold atoms in optical lattices can be used as a model to help understand the physics behind superconductivity or quantum magnetism, for example," says senior author Markus Greiner, an assistant professor of physics at Harvard and an affiliate of the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms. "We expect that our technique, which bridges the gap between earlier microscopic and macroscopic approaches to the study of quantum systems, will help in quantum simulations of condensed matter systems, and also find applications in quantum information processing."

The quantum gas microscope developed by Greiner and his colleagues is a high-resolution device capable of viewing single atoms -- in this case, atoms of rubidium -- occupying individual, closely spaced lattice sites. The rubidium atoms are cooled to just 5 billionths of a degree above absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius).

"At such low temperatures, atoms follow the rules of quantum mechanics, causing them to behave in very unexpected ways," explains first author Waseem S. Bakr, a graduate student in Harvard's Department of Physics. "Quantum mechanics allows atoms to quickly tunnel around within the lattice, move around with no resistance, and even be 'delocalized' over the entire lattice. With our microscope we can individually observe tens of thousands of atoms working together to perform these amazing feats."

In their paper, Bakr, Greiner, and colleagues present images of single rubidium atoms confined to an optical lattice created through projections of a laser-generated holographic pattern. The neighboring rubidium atoms are just 640 nanometers apart, allowing them to quickly tunnel their way through the lattice.

Confining a quantum gas -- such as a Bose–Einstein condensate -- in such an optically generated lattice creates a system that can be used to model complex phenomena in condensed-matter physics, such as superfluidity. Until now, only the bulk properties of such systems could be studied, but the new microscope's ability to detect arrays of thousands of single atoms gives scientists what amounts to a new workshop for tinkering with the fundamental properties of matter, making it possible to study these simulated systems in much more detail, and possibly also forming the basis of a single-site readout system for quantum computation.

"There are many unsolved questions regarding quantum materials, such as high-temperature superconductors that lose all electrical resistance if they are cooled to moderate temperatures," Greiner says. "We hope this ultracold atom model system can provide answers to some of these important questions, paving the way for creating novel quantum materials with as-yet unknown properties."

Greiner's co-authors on the Nature paper are Waseem S. Bakr, Jonathon I. Gillen, Amy Peng, and Simon Foelling, all of Harvard's Department of Physics and the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms. Their work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A two-atom quantum duet
12.11.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

nachricht Improving understanding of how the Solar System is formed
12.11.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

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: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>