Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breaking the limits of classical physics: Light's quantum mechanical properties demonstrated

Date:
June 7, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
With simple arguments, researchers show that nature is complicated! Researchers have made a simple experiment that demonstrates that nature violates common sense. The experiment illustrates that light does not behave according to the principles of classical physics, but that light has quantum mechanical properties. The new method could be used to study whether other systems behave quantum mechanically.

In the quantum optical laboratories at the Niels Bohr Institute, researchers have conducted experiments that show that light breaks with the classical physical principles. The studies show that light can have both an electrical and a magnetic field, but not at the same time. That is to say, light has quantum mechanical properties.
Credit: Niels Bohr Institute

With simple arguments, researchers show that nature is complicated! Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have made a simple experiment that demonstrates that nature violates common sense -- the world is different than most people believe. The experiment illustrates that light does not behave according to the principles of classical physics, but that light has quantum mechanical properties. The new method could be used to study whether other systems behave quantum mechanically.

The results have been published in the scientific journal, Physical Review Letters.

In physics there are two categories: classical physics and quantum physics. In classical physics, objects, e.g. a car or a ball, have a position and a velocity. This is how we classically look at our everyday world. In the quantum world objects can also have a position and a velocity, but not at the same time. At the atomic level, quantum mechanics says that nature behaves quite differently than you might think. It is not just that we do not know the position and the velocity, rather, these two things simply do not exist simultaneously. But how do we know that they do not exist simultaneously? And where is the border of these two worlds? Researchers have found a new way to answer these questions.

Light on quantum mechanics

"Our goal is to use quantum mechanics in a new way. It is therefore important for us to know that a 'system' really behaves in a way that has no classical explanation. To this end, we first examined light," explains Eran Kot, PhD-student in the research group, Quantum Optics at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

Based on a series of experiments in the quantum optics laboratories, they examined the state of light. In classical physics, light possesses both an electric and a magnetic field.

"What our study demonstrated was that light can have both an electric and a magnetic field, but not at the same time. We thus provide a simple proof that an experiment breaks the classical principles. That is to say, we showed light possesses quantum properties, and we can expand this to other systems as well" says Eran Kot.

Classical and non-classical mechanics

The aim of the research is both to fundamentally understand the world, but there is also a practical challenge in being able to exploit quantum mechanics in larger contexts. For light it is no great surprise that it behaves quantum mechanically, but the methods that have been developed can also be used to study other systems.

"We are endeavouring to develop future quantum computers and we therefore need to understand the borders for when something behaves quantum mechanically and when it is classical mechanics," says professor of quantum physics Anders S. Sørensen, explaining that quantum computing must necessarily be composed of systems with non-classical properties.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Eran Kot, Niels Grønbech-Jensen, Bo M. Nielsen, Jonas S. Neergaard-Nielsen, Eugene S. Polzik and Anders S. Sørensen. Breakdown of the Classical Description of a Local System. Phys. Rev. Lett., 2012 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.233601

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Breaking the limits of classical physics: Light's quantum mechanical properties demonstrated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120607105817.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, June 7). Breaking the limits of classical physics: Light's quantum mechanical properties demonstrated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120607105817.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Breaking the limits of classical physics: Light's quantum mechanical properties demonstrated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120607105817.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
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