Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Physicists Engineer the Picture-Perfect Classical Atom

Abstract:
Picture the textbook atom. It would resemble a miniature solar system — an atomic nucleus orbited by electrons, drawn in nice tidy elliptical orbits — like planets orbiting the Sun. This is a reasonable classical depiction of an atom, but it is completely at odds with the usual quantum description of an atom. Now, a University of Virginia physicist has engineered, in a sense, the classical picture-perfect textbook atom.

Physicists Engineer the Picture-Perfect Classical Atom

Charlottesville, VA | Posted on April 13th, 2009

In the quantum energy states of a one-electron atom, the electron does not move in an orbit, but is described by a wave function, which, when squared, produces a probability cloud about the nucleus which does not change in time.

The electron can be in any given place at any given time, and at all places at once. That is quantum mechanics, an arena of physics so strange and complicated, even physicists admit it is hard to picture.

But University of Virginia physicist Tom Gallagher and his colleagues have engineered, in a sense, the classical picture-perfect textbook atom.

The physicists used a weak microwave field to lock together the time-dependent phase evolutions of the wave functions of several energy states. If only one energy state's wave function is present, its phase is of no consequence; but if there are two or more, the phases matter.

At any given time the wave functions add in one region of space and cancel in another. When the composite wave function is squared, the probability is localized, and it moves, just like the classical atom we picture.

Gallagher and his team recently published their results in Physical Review Letters (volume 102, page 103001).

Researchers at the University of Rochester originally suggested that making such classical atoms might be possible, noting the similarity to Lagrange points — regions of space where gravity from a variety of points, such as planets, affect the orbits of other bodies in space, and can cancel out distant sources of gravity.

To realize such atoms in the laboratory, Gallagher and his team struck upon the idea of first locking the motion of an electron to a linearly polarized field, producing an atom in which the electron oscillates along a line, and then altering the microwave polarization to circular. The electron orbit follows the changing polarization, becoming a circular orbit.

"We honestly were quite surprised by how well we could manipulate the atom with our technique," Gallagher said. "We demonstrated that we can change the state of the atom in a way that was once considered impossible."

Carlos Stroud, a physicist at the University of Rochester, marveled at the quality of Gallagher's work in a commentary for the publication Physics; and he later described the experiment as "a beautiful piece of physics" for the magazine New Scientist.

Gallagher's co-authors are U.Va. graduate student Joshua Gurian and Haruka Maeda, now of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Fariss Samarrai
434-924-3778

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Physics

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

News and information

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Discoveries

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Announcements

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research: Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project August 10th, 2017

Nanocrystalline LEDs: Red, green, yellow, blue ... August 7th, 2017

Scientists discover new magnet with nearly massless charge carriers July 29th, 2017

Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing: New approach yields long-lasting configurations that could provide long-sought “qubit” material July 27th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project