Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


When Different Systems Behave Alike


Researchers from Heidelberg and Vienna demonstrate universal dynamics in clouds of Rubidium atoms

Different physical systems – isolated from the environment and far from equilibrium – can behave the same. Quantum mechanically, this is the case if the dynamics of a many-particle system become universal.

Experimental setup at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics at Heidelberg University. Here the universal dynamics of ultracold atoms was observed.

Photo: Alexis Bonnin (KIP)

In two fundamentally different experiments, physicists from Heidelberg University and the TU Vienna (Austria) have now succeeded in verifying this universality in ultracold clouds of Rubidium atoms.

The improved understanding of the systems studied permit making predictions for totally different systems. The research results were published in “Nature”.

The expansion of the Universe directly after the Big Bang, the ramifications of a heavy-ion collision in the particle accelerator at CERN, or clouds of atoms at ultracold temperatures – many isolated physical systems are naturally out of equilibrium, yet the relevant quantities are often hard to measure.

This is different for ultracold atomic gases. "The high degree of control over our system allows us to set up interesting initial conditions. In the course of the dynamics we are able to measure precisely the universal observables, for example the state of the atoms, spatially resolved“, explains Prof. Dr Markus Oberthaler, founder of the Synthetic Quantum Systems research group at Heidelberg University’s Kirchhoff Institute for Physics.

In their experiment, the Heidelberg researchers prepared about 70,000 ultracold Rubidium atoms. They were thrown out of equilibrium by a rapid change in an external magnetic field.

At ultracold temperatures around 10 nanokelvins and in perfect isolation from the environment, the atoms behave like magnets that interact with each other. The characteristics of the universal dynamics become observable only after – for experiments with ultracold atoms – long evolution times. “This requires an extremely stable experimental setup, but it does allow us to investigate the dynamics very precisely”, says Maximilian Prüfer, the primary author of the study.

The research group of Prof. Dr Jörg Schmiedmayer at the TU Vienna observed another type of universal dynamics. "Universality provides a new method to gain essential information about quantum systems usually not accessible in the laboratory“, says Jörg Schmiedmayer.

Prof. Dr Thomas Gasenzer of the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics and Prof. Dr Jürgen Berges of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Ruperto Carola were involved in these investigations. They are also co-authors of the Heidelberg study under the direction of Prof. Oberthaler.

The characterisation of quantum mechanical many-particle systems far from equilibrium is very important, for example, for understanding structure formation in nature. Markus Oberthaler emphasises: “The impressive result of both experiments is that they found two different universality classes. This suggests that we are on the track of a fundamental structure.” The work in Heidelberg and Vienna was conducted under the auspices of the "Isolated quantum systems and universality in extreme conditions" Collaborative Research Centre at Heidelberg University.

Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone +49 6221 54-2311

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr Markus Oberthaler
Kirchhoff Institute for Physics
Phone +49 6221 54-5170


M. Prüfer, P. Kunkel, H. Strobel, S. Lannig, D. Linnemann, C.M. Schmied, J. Berges, T. Gasenzer, and M.K. Oberthaler: Observation of universal dynamics in a spinor Bose gas far from equilibrium. Nature 563, 217-220 (2018),

S. Erne, R. Bücker, T. Gasenzer, J. Berges, and J. Schmiedmayer: Universal dynamics in an isolated one-dimensional Bose gas far from equilibrium. Nature 563, 225-229 (2018),

Weitere Informationen:

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Quantum gas turns supersolid
23.04.2019 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun
18.04.2019 | University of Warwick

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: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

Latest News

Proteins stand up to nerve cell regression

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

New sensor detects rare metals used in smartphones

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Controlling instabilities gives closer look at chemistry from hypersonic vehicles

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>