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 August 21, 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 August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
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