Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Insights on quantum mechanics

This sketch shows how a quantum gas microscope hones in on individual atoms in the gas.
This sketch shows how a quantum gas microscope hones in on individual atoms in the gas.

Abstract:
Harvard physicists create simulative process to gauge unseen forces

By Steve Bradt, Harvard Staff Writer

Insights on quantum mechanics

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 19th, 2010

For the first time, physicists at Harvard University have tracked individual atoms in a gas cooled to extreme temperatures as the particles reorganized into a crystal, a process driven by quantum mechanics. The research, described in the journal Science, opens new possibilities for particle-by-particle study and engineering of artificial quantum materials.

"Much of modern technology is driven by engineering materials with novel properties, and the bizarre world of quantum mechanics can contribute to this engineering toolbox," said Markus Greiner, an assistant professor of physics at Harvard, who led the research team. "For example, quantum materials could be used to turn heat into electricity, or in cables that transport electricity very efficiently in a power grid."

"The challenge in understanding the behavior of such materials is that although we have many ideas about how they might work, we lack the tools to verify these theories by looking at and manipulating these materials at the most basic atomic level," Greiner said. "This is the problem we have set out to tackle."

To circumvent the challenges of studying such materials, Greiner and his colleagues created an artificial quantum material, a cold gas of rubidium atoms moving in a lattice made of light. This pancake-shaped cloud, known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, allowed them to study the physics of quantum materials at a much larger scale, essentially simulating what happens in a real material.

The physicists watched individual atoms participate in a dramatic collective transition between two states of matter, similar to the transition that happens when water freezes into ice. But this transition was driven not by temperature but by the researchers' manipulation of interactions between the atoms.

"We counted the number of atoms at each site of the lattice," said co-author Waseem Bakr, a graduate student in Harvard's Department of Physics. "When the interactions between the atoms are weak, the number of atoms varies significantly in different sites due to uncertainty that is intrinsic to quantum mechanics. When we increase the interactions, these fluctuations vanish, and the atoms arrange into an almost perfect crystal."

Such a transition from a superfluid state — in which particles can move with no resistance — to an insulating Mott state — where the atoms can no longer move — was first observed by Greiner and colleagues in 2001. However, a quantum gas microscope developed last year by Greiner's group now allows observation of individual atoms as they undergo this transition.

"This microscope is a versatile tool which should be able to shed light on many other phenomena related to quantum materials, such as magnetic materials," Greiner said. "It could even be used for computations that require enormous resources on current computers."

While a simulation similar to the current experiment could, in principle, be carried out on a computer, Greiner said that such an approach would quickly become infeasible for a system with more than a few dozen atoms.

Greiner and Bakr's co-authors in Harvard's Department of Physics and at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms are Amy Peng, Eric Tai, Ruichao Ma, Jonathan Simon, Jonathon Gillen, and Lode Pollet, as well as Simon Foelling of Harvard and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. Their work was supported by the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Tel: 617.495.1000

Copyright © Harvard University

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

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

Unusual Electronic State Found in New Class of Unconventional Superconductors: Finding gives scientists a new group of materials to explore to unlock secrets of some materials' ability to carry current with no energy loss December 8th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Possible Futures

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Researchers discern the shapes of high-order Brownian motions November 17th, 2014

VDMA Electronics Production Equipment: Growth track for 2014 and 2015 confirmed: Business climate survey shows robust industry sector November 14th, 2014

Open Materials Development Will Be Key for HP's Success in 3D Printing: HP can make a big splash in 3D printing, but it needs to shore up technology claims and avoid the temptation of the razor/razor blade business model in order to flourish November 11th, 2014

Academic/Education

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Nanomedicine expert joins Rice faculty: Gang Bao combines genetic, nano and imaging techniques to fight disease December 17th, 2014

FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014

Student Nanotechnology Laboratories Network Set Up in Iran December 15th, 2014

Announcements

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Tools

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Research partnerships

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014

Quantum nanoscience

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

High photosensitivity 2D-few-layered molybdenum diselenide phototransistors December 8th, 2014

Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE