Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First non-trivial atom circuit: Progress toward an atom SQUID

Date:
March 31, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Researchers have created the first non-trivial "atom circuit," a donut-shaped loop of ultracold gas atoms circulating in a current analogous to a ring of electrons in a superconducting wire.

Atom circuit: False color images of an "atom circuit" made of an ultracold sodium gas. Red denotes a greater density of atoms and traces the path of circulating atoms around the ring. A laser-based barrier can stop the flow of atoms around the circuit (left); without the barrier the atoms circulate around the ring (right).
Credit: JQI/NIST

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland (UM) have created the first nontrivial "atom circuit," a donut-shaped loop of ultracold gas atoms circulating in a current analogous to a ring of electrons in a superconducting wire. The circuit is "nontrivial" because it includes a circuit element -- an adjustable barrier that controls the flow of atom current to specific allowed values.

The newly published work was done at the Joint Quantum Institute, a NIST/UM collaboration.

Ultracold gases, such as the Bose-Einstein condensate of sodium atoms in this experiment, are fluids that exhibit the unusual rules of the quantum world. Atomic quantum fluids show promise for constructing ultraprecise versions of sensors and other devices such as gyroscopes (which stabilize objects and aid in navigation). Superfuid helium circuits have already been used to detect rotation. Superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) use superconducting electrons in a loop to make highly sensitive measurements of magnetic fields. Researchers are striving to create an ultracold-gas version of a SQUID, which could detect rotation. Combined with ultracold atomic-gas analogs of other electronic devices and circuits, or "atomtronics" that have been envisioned, such as diodes and transistors, this work could set the stage for a new generation of ultracold-gas-based precision sensors.

To make their atom circuit, researchers created a long-lived persistent current -- a frictionless flow of particles -- in a Bose-Einstein condensate of sodium atoms held by an arrangement of lasers in a so-called optical trap that confines them to a toroidal, or donut, shape. Persistent flow -- occurring for a record-high 40 seconds in this experiment -- is a hallmark of superfluidity, the fluid analog of superconductivity.

The atom current does not circle the ring at just any velocity, but only at specified values, corresponding in this experiment to just a single quantum of angular momentum. A focused laser beam creates the circuit element -- a barrier across one side of the ring. The barrier constitutes a tunable "weak link" that can turn off the current around the loop.

Superflow stops abruptly when the strength of the barrier is sufficiently high. Like water in a pinched garden hose, the atoms speed up in the vicinity of the barrier. But when the velocity reaches a critical value, the atoms encounter resistance to flow (viscosity) and the circulation stops, as there are no external forces to sustain it.

In atomic Bose-Einstein condensates, researchers have previously created Josephson junctions, a thin barrier separating two superfluid regions, in a single atomic trap. SQUIDs require a Josephson junction in a circuit. This present work represents the implementation of a complete atom circuit, containing a superfluid ring of current and a tunable weak link barrier. This is an important step toward realizing an atomic SQUID analog.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Ramanathan, K. Wright, S. Muniz, M. Zelan, W. Hill, C. Lobb, K. Helmerson, W. Phillips, G. Campbell. Superflow in a Toroidal Bose-Einstein Condensate: An Atom Circuit with a Tunable Weak Link. Physical Review Letters, 2011; 106 (13) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.130401

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "First non-trivial atom circuit: Progress toward an atom SQUID." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151347.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, March 31). First non-trivial atom circuit: Progress toward an atom SQUID. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151347.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "First non-trivial atom circuit: Progress toward an atom SQUID." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331151347.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is It a Plane? No, It's a Hoverbike

Is It a Plane? No, It's a Hoverbike

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) UK-based Malloy Aeronautics is preparing to test a manned quadcopter capable of out-manouvering a helicopter and presenting a new paradigm for aerial vehicles. A 1/3-sized scale model is already gaining popularity with drone enthusiasts around the world, with the full-sized manned model expected to take flight in the near future. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Researchers found the scanners could be duped simply by placing a weapon off to the side of the body or encasing it under a plastic shield. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. 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:
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