Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanical Motion Used To 'Spin' Atoms In A Gas

Date:
December 12, 2006
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Summary:
For the first time, mechanical motion has been used to make atoms in a gas "spin," scientists at NIST report. The technique might eventually be used in high-performance magnetic sensors, enable power-efficient chip-scale atomic devices such as clocks, or serve as components for manipulating bits of information in quantum computers.

Micro-cantilever experiment demonstrating magnetic coupling of mechanical motion to atomic spin. The approximately 200-micrometer cantilever (circled) has a tiny magnetic particle on the free end. Rubidium atoms are confined in the cubic vapor cell to the left.
Credit: Ying-Ju Wang, NIST

For the first time, mechanical motion has been used to make atoms in a gas "spin," scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report. The technique eventually might be used in high-performance magnetic sensors, enable power-efficient chip-scale atomic devices such as clocks, or serve as components for manipulating bits of information in quantum computers.

Related Articles


As described in the Dec. 1 issue of Physical Review Letters,* the NIST team used a vibrating microscale cantilever, a tiny plank anchored at one end like a diving board, to drive magnetic oscillations in rubidium atoms. The scientists attached a tiny magnetic particle--about 10 by 50 by 100 micrometers in size--to the cantilever tip and applied electrical signals at the cantilever's "resonant" frequency to make the tip of the cantilever, and hence the magnetic particle, vibrate up and down. The vibrating particle in turn generated an oscillating magnetic field that impinged on atoms confined inside a 1-square-millimeter container nearby.

The electrons in the atoms, acting like tiny bar magnets with north and south poles, responded by rotating about a static magnetic field applied to the experimental set-up, causing the atoms to rotate like spinning tops that are wobbling slightly. The scientists detected the rotation by monitoring patterns in the amount of infrared laser light absorbed by the spinning atoms as their orientation fluctuated with the magnetic gyrations. Atoms absorb polarized light depending on their orientation with respect to the light beam.

Micro-cantilevers are a focus of intensive research in part because they can be operated with low power, such as from a battery, and yet are sensitive enough to detect very slight changes in magnetic fields with high spatial resolution. The NIST team noted that coupling between cantilever motion and atomic spins is easy to detect, and that the atoms maintain consistent rotation patterns for a sufficiently long time, on the order of milliseconds, to be useful in precision applications.

For instance, by comparing the oscillation frequency of the cantilever to the natural rotation behavior of the atoms (determined by measuring the extent of the wobble), the local magnetic field can be determined with high precision. Or, arrays of magnetic cantilevers might be constructed, with each cantilever coupled vibrationally to the others and coupled magnetically to a unique collection of atoms. Such a device could be used to store or manipulate binary data in a quantum computer. In theory, the coupling process also could work backwards, so that atomic spins could be detected by monitoring the vibrational motion of the cantilevers.

The research was supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

* Y-J. Wang, M. Eardley, S. Knappe, J. Moreland, L. Hollberg, and J. Kitching. 2006. Magnetic resonance in an atomic vapor excited by a mechanical resonator. Physical Review Letters. Dec. 1.


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. "Mechanical Motion Used To 'Spin' Atoms In A Gas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061208101026.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2006, December 12). Mechanical Motion Used To 'Spin' Atoms In A Gas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061208101026.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Mechanical Motion Used To 'Spin' Atoms In A Gas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061208101026.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) China and "one or two" other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and hea Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latest Minivan Crash Tests Aren't Pretty

Latest Minivan Crash Tests Aren't Pretty

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Five minivans were put to the test in head-on crash simulations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Congress hears from a victim and company officials as it holds a hearing on the safety of Takata airbags after reports of injuries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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