Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mathematicians can conjure matter waves inside an invisible hat

Date:
May 29, 2012
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Mathematicians have devised an amplifier that can boost light, sound or other waves while hiding them inside an invisible container.

This graphic shows a matter wave hitting a Schrodinger's hat. The wave inside the container is magnified. Outside, the waves wrap as if they had never encountered any obstacle.
Credit: G. Uhlmann, U. of Washington

Invisibility, once the subject of magic or legend, is slowly becoming reality. Over the past five years mathematicians and other scientists have been working on devices that enable invisibility cloaks -- perhaps not yet concealing Harry Potter, but at least shielding small objects from detection by microwaves or sound waves.

A University of Washington mathematician is part of an international team working to understand invisibility and extend its possible applications. The group has now devised an amplifier that can boost light, sound or other waves while hiding them inside an invisible container.

"You can isolate and magnify what you want to see, and make the rest invisible," said corresponding author Gunther Uhlmann, a UW mathematics professor. "You can amplify the waves tremendously. And although the wave has been magnified a lot, you still cannot see what is happening inside the container."

The findings are published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As a first application, the researchers propose manipulating matter waves, which are the mathematical description of particles in quantum mechanics. The researchers envision building a quantum microscope that could capture quantum waves, the waves of the nanoworld. A quantum microscope could, for example, be used to monitor electronic processes on computer chips.

The authors dubbed their system "Schrödinger's hat," referring to the famed Schrödinger's cat in quantum mechanics. The name is also a nod to the ability to create something from what appears to be nothing.

"In some sense you are doing something magical, because it looks like a particle is being created. It's like pulling something out of your hat," Uhlmann said.

Matter waves inside the hat can also be shrunk, though Uhlmann notes that concealing very small objects "is not so interesting."

Uhlmann, who is on leave at the University of California, Irvine, has been working on invisibility with fellow mathematicians Allan Greenleaf at the University of Rochester, Yaroslav Kurylev at University College London in the U.K., and Matti Lassas at the University of Helsinki in Finland, all of whom are co-authors on the new paper.

The team helped develop the original mathematics to formulate cloaks, which must be realized using a class of engineered materials, dubbed metamaterials, that bend waves so that it appears as if there was no object in their path. The international team in 2007 devised wormholes in which waves disappear in one place and pop up somewhere else.

For this paper, they teamed up with co-author Ulf Leonhardt, a physicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and author on one of the first papers on invisibility.

Recent progress suggests that a Schrodinger's hat could, in fact, be built for some types of waves.

"From the experimental point of view, I think the most exciting thing is how easy it seems to be to build materials for acoustic cloaking," Uhlmann said. Wavelengths for microwave, sound and quantum matter waves are longer than light or electromagnetic waves, making it easier to build the materials to cloak objects from observation using these phenomena.

"We hope that it's feasible, but in science you don't know until you do it," Uhlmann said. Now that the paper is published, they hope to find collaborators to build a prototype.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation in the U.S., the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Royal Society in the U.K., and the Academy of Finland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Hannah Hickey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Mathematicians can conjure matter waves inside an invisible hat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529182715.htm>.
University of Washington. (2012, May 29). Mathematicians can conjure matter waves inside an invisible hat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529182715.htm
University of Washington. "Mathematicians can conjure matter waves inside an invisible hat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529182715.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

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
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) — Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee 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