Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicists create quantum twin atoms

Date:
May 2, 2011
Source:
Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna
Summary:
Sophisticated chips have been used to create pairs of quantum mechanically connected twin atoms. Until now, similar experiments were only possible using photons.

A Bose-Einstein condensate emmits quantum mechanically correlated atoms in an atom-chip.
Credit: Copyright TU Vienna, Robert Bücker

Objects that are well separated in space but still cannot be understood separately belong to the profoundest mysteries of quantum physics. Pairs of photons are prominent examples of such systems. They allow the teleportation of quantum states or tap-proof data transfer using quantum cryptography. In future, such experiments will not be restricted simply to photons. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), a method has been developed to create correlated pairs of atoms using ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates.

The results of the experiments have now been published in the journal Nature Physics.

Separate but Still United

Even Einstein did not like the idea of well-separated particles still being quantum mechanically connected. He called this phenomenon "spooky action at a distance." However, since then, the startling predictions of quantum theory have been verified in countless experiments. Quantum particles can -- even if they are far apart -- still belong together and "share" certain physical properties.

"This does not mean that by manipulating one particle we can at the same time change the other, as if they were connected by an invisible thread," Professor Jörg Schmiedmayer (TU Vienna) says, "but still, we have to treat both particles as one single quantum system -- and that opens the door to fascinating new experiments." Jörg Schmiedmayer's team at the Institute for Atomic and Subatomic Physics, TU Vienna carried out the experiments, while theoretical calculations were done by Ulrich Hohensteiner (Karl Franzens University, Graz, Austria).

Conservation of Energy and Momentum

In order to produce the quantum-correlated atoms, the scientists first create a Bose-Einstein condensate. This exotic state of matter occurs at extremely low temperatures, at less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. In a Bose-Einstein condensate, the atoms are in the lowest possible energy state.

"The key to success are our atomchips," Thorsten Schumm (TU Vienna) explains. With perfectly tailored chip structures, atoms can be manipulated with incredible precision. It is possible to deliver single quanta of vibrational energy to the atoms of the ultracold Bose-Einstein condensate. When the atoms return to the lowest energy state, the condensate has to get rid of the surplus energy.

"Because of the sophisticated design of our atomchips, the Bose-Einstein condensate is left with only one single way to dispose of its energy: emitting pairs of atoms. All other possibilities are forbidden by quantum mechanics," Robert Bücker (TU Vienna) explains. According to the law of momentum conservation, the two atoms move in exactly opposite directions. This process is closely related to effects in special optical crystals, in which pairs of photons can be created (so-called "optical parametric oscillators"), but now massive particles can be used instead of light.

Fundamental Research in Vienna

The emitted twin atoms cannot be understood in the same way as classical particles, such as debris scattered into all directions in an explosion. They are quantum mechanical copies of each other and only differ by their direction of motion. They form one common quantum object. One atom cannot be mathematically described without also describing the other.

"We are going to use these atoms for exciting new experiments," Schmiedmayer enthuses. "A fascinating new field of research is opening up which new insights and possible applications will evolve from. This cannot yet be foreseen. It is conceivable that these correlated atom beams will lead to new quantum measurement methods, with a precision far beyond the scope of classical physics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert Bücker, Julian Grond, Stephanie Manz, Tarik Berrada, Thomas Betz, Christian Koller, Ulrich Hohenester, Thorsten Schumm, Aurélien Perrin, Jörg Schmiedmayer. Twin-atom beams. Nature Physics, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nphys1992

Cite This Page:

Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna. "Physicists create quantum twin atoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183605.htm>.
Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna. (2011, May 2). Physicists create quantum twin atoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183605.htm
Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna. "Physicists create quantum twin atoms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183605.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

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
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
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. 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