Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Atoms dressed with light show new interactions, could reveal way to observe enigmatic particle

Date:
December 9, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Physicists have found a way to manipulate atoms' internal states with lasers that dramatically influences their interactions in specific ways. Such light-tweaked atoms can be used as proxies to study important phenomena that would be difficult or impossible to study in other contexts.

Schematic drawing of collision between two BECs (the gray blobs) that have been “dressed” by laser light (brown arrows) and an additional magnetic field (green arrow). The fuzzy halo shows where atoms have been scattered. The non-uniform projection of the scattering halo on the graph beneath shows that some of the scattering has been d-wave and g-wave.
Credit: Image courtesy of Joint Quantum Institute

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found a way to manipulate atoms' internal states with lasers that dramatically influences their interactions in specific ways. Such light-tweaked atoms can be used as proxies to study important phenomena that would be difficult or impossible to study in other contexts.

Their most recent work, appearing in Science, demonstrates a new class of interactions thought to be important to the physics of superconductors that could be used for quantum computation.

Particle interactions are fundamental to physics, determining, for example, how magnetic materials and high temperature superconductors work. Learning more about these interactions or creating new "effective" interactions will help scientists design materials with specific magnetic or superconducting properties.

Because most materials are complicated systems, it is difficult to study or engineer the interactions between the constituent electrons. Researchers at NIST build physically analogous systems using supercooled atoms to learn more about how materials with these properties work.

"Basically, we're able to simulate these complicated systems and observe how they work in slow motion," says Ian Spielman, a physicist at NIST and fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a collaborative enterprise of NIST and the University of Maryland.

According to Ross Williams, a postdoctoral researcher at NIST, cold atom experiments are good for studying many body systems because they offer a high degree of control over position and behavior of the atoms.

"First, we trap rubidium-87 atoms using magnetic fields and cool them down to 100 nanokelvins," says Williams. "At these temperatures, they become what's known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. Cooling the atoms this much makes them really sluggish, and once we see that they are moving slowly enough, we use lasers to 'dress' the atoms, or mix together different energy states within them. Once we have dressed the atoms, we split the condensate, collide the two parts, and then see how they interact."

According to Williams, without being laser-dressed, simple, low-energy interactions dominate how the atoms scatter as they come together. While in this state, the atoms bang into each other and scatter to form a uniform sphere that looks the same from every direction, which doesn't reveal much about how the atoms interacted.

When dressed, however, the atoms tended to scatter in certain directions and form interesting shapes indicative of the influence of new, more complicated interactions, which aren't normally seen in ultracold atom systems. The ability to induce them allows researchers to explore a whole new range of exciting quantum phenomena in these systems.

While the researchers used rubidium atoms, which are bosons, for this experiment, they are modifying the scheme to study ultracold fermions, a different species of particle. The group hopes to find evidence of the Majorana fermion, an enigmatic, still theoretical kind of particle that is involved in superconducting systems important to quantum computation.

"A lot of people are looking for the Majorana fermion," says Williams. "It would be great if our approach helped us to be the first."


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. R. A. Williams, L. J. Leblanc, K. Jimιnez-Garcνa, M. C. Beeler, A. R. Perry, W. D. Phillips, I. B. Spielman. Synthetic Partial Waves in Ultracold Atomic Collisions. Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1126/science.1212652

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Atoms dressed with light show new interactions, could reveal way to observe enigmatic particle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152019.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, December 9). Atoms dressed with light show new interactions, could reveal way to observe enigmatic particle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152019.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Atoms dressed with light show new interactions, could reveal way to observe enigmatic particle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152019.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Japan's bullet train turns 50 Wednesday. Here's a look at how it's changed over half a century — and the changes it's inspired globally. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) — Police body cameras are gradually being rolled out across the US, with interest surging after the fatal police shooting in August of an unarmed black teenager. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

More Coverage


The Impact of Quantum Matter

Dec. 8, 2011 — "Dressing" atoms with laser light allows high angular momentum scattering to be seen for the first time in long-lived atomic Bose-Einstein condensates at ultracold ... read more

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