Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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 ó in which particles can move with no resistance ó to an insulating Mott state ó where the atoms can no longer move ó 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-Universitšt 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

'Find the Lady' in the quantum world: International team of researchers presents method for quantum-mechanical swapping of positions October 18th, 2017

The secret to improving liquid crystal's mechanical performance: Better lubricating properties of lamellar liquid crystals could stem from changing the mobility of their structural dislocations by adding nanoparticles October 13th, 2017

What can be discovered at the junction of physics and chemistry October 6th, 2017

Energy against the current on a quantum scale, without contradicting the laws of physics: A piece of research in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated confirms that merely observing a flow of energy or particles can change its direction October 6th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Possible Futures

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

'Find the Lady' in the quantum world: International team of researchers presents method for quantum-mechanical swapping of positions October 18th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Academic/Education

Two Scientists Receive Grants to Develop New Materials: Chad Mirkin and Monica Olvera de la Cruz recognized by Sherman Fairchild Foundation August 16th, 2017

Moving at the Speed of Light: University of Arizona selected for high-impact, industrial demonstration of new integrated photonic cryogenic datalink for focal plane arrays: Program is major milestone for AIM Photonics August 10th, 2017

Graduate Students from Across the Country Attend Hands-on NanoCamp: Prominent scientists Warren Oliver, Ph.D., and George Pharr, Ph.D., presented a weeklong NanoCamp for hand-picked graduate students across the United States July 26th, 2017

The Physics Department of Imperial College, London, uses the Quorum Q150T to deposit metals and ITO to make plasmonic sensors and electric contact pads July 13th, 2017

Announcements

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Tools

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Nanometrics Announces Preliminary Results for the Third Quarter of 2017: Quarterly Results Impacted by Delays in Revenue Recognition on Multiple Systems into Japan October 12th, 2017

Seeing the next dimension of computer chips: Researchers image perfectly smooth side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals with a scanning tunneling microscope, paving the way for smaller and faster computing devices October 11th, 2017

Research partnerships

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

'Find the Lady' in the quantum world: International team of researchers presents method for quantum-mechanical swapping of positions October 18th, 2017

What can be discovered at the junction of physics and chemistry October 6th, 2017

Energy against the current on a quantum scale, without contradicting the laws of physics: A piece of research in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated confirms that merely observing a flow of energy or particles can change its direction October 6th, 2017

Enhancing the sensing capabilities of diamonds with quantum properties: A simple method can give diamonds the special properties needed for quantum applications such as sensing magnetic fields September 24th, 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