Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Tornadoes' Are Transferred From Light To Sodium Atoms

Date:
November 10, 2006
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Summary:
For the first time, tornado-like rotational motions have been transferred from light to atoms in a controlled way at NIST. The new quantum physics technique can be used to manipulate Bose-Einstein condensates, a state of matter of worldwide research interest and possibly used in quantum information systems.

Quantum weirdness: Pictures of a BEC "cloud" of sodium atoms in the NIST experiment to transfer rotational energy to a quantum system show the cloud (a) rotating in a donut-shaped vortex, and interfering with itself as the cloud (b) simultaneously rotates in opposite directions, and (c) simultaneously rotates and stands still. Rotational energy is transferred in quantized amounts. False-color images show (d) one and (e) two units of rotational motion.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

For the first time, tornado-like rotational motions have been transferred from light to atoms in a controlled way at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The new quantum physics technique can be used to manipulate Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), a state of matter of worldwide research interest, and possibly used in quantum information systems, an emerging computing and communications technology of potentially great power.

As reported in the Oct. 27 issue of Physical Review Letters,* the research team transferred orbital angular momentum--essentially the same motion as air molecules in a tornado or a planet revolving around a star--from laser light to sodium atoms.

The NIST experiment completes the scientific toolkit for complete control of the state of an atom, which now includes the internal, translational, and rotational behavior. The rotational motion of light previously has been used to rotate particles, but this new work marks the first time the motion has been transferred to atoms in discrete, measurable units, or quanta. Other researchers, as well as the NIST group, previously have transferred linear momentum and spin angular momentum (an internal magnetic state) from light to atoms.

The experiments were performed with more than a million sodium atoms confined in a magnetic trap. The atoms were chilled to near absolute zero and in identical quantum states, the condition known as a Bose-Einstein condensate in which they behave like a single "super-atom" with a jelly-like consistency. The BEC was illuminated from opposite sides by two laser beams, one of them with a rotating doughnut shape. Each atom absorbed one photon (the fundamental particle of light) from the doughnut laser beam and emitted one photon in the path of the other laser beam, picking up the difference in orbital angular momentum between the two photons. The interaction of the two opposing lasers created a corkscrew-like interference pattern, inducing the BEC to rotate--picture a rotating doughnut, or a vortex similar to a hurricane.

The researchers demonstrated control over the process by inducing the cloud of atoms to simultaneously rotate and stand still, or to rotate simultaneously in opposite directions with varying amounts of momentum--a mind-bending peculiarity of quantum physics known as superposition.

The research team included staff from NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute operated by NIST and the University of Maryland, as well as guest researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, and Institut für Experimentalphysik, Universität Wien, in Austria. The work was funded in part by the Office of Naval Research, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Advanced Research and Development Activity.

* M.F. Andersen, C. Ryu, P. Cladé, V. Natarajan, A. Vaziri, K. Helmerson, and W.D. Phillips. 2006. Quantized rotation of atoms from photons with orbital angular momentum. Physical Review Letters. Oct. 27.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology. "'Tornadoes' Are Transferred From Light To Sodium Atoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110080812.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2006, November 10). 'Tornadoes' Are Transferred From Light To Sodium Atoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110080812.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology. "'Tornadoes' Are Transferred From Light To Sodium Atoms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110080812.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins