Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beyond quantum simulation: Physicists create 'crystal' of spin-swapping ultracold molecules

Date:
September 18, 2013
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Physicists have created a crystal-like arrangement of ultracold gas molecules that swap quantum "spin" properties with nearby and distant partners. The novel structure might be used to simulate or even invent new materials that derive exotic properties from quantum spin behavior, for electronics or other practical applications.

Illustration of the interaction energies between ultracold potassium-rubidium molecules trapped in a lattice made of intersecting laser beams. The colors indicate each molecule's interaction with the molecule located in the center of the lattice (green), for a specific magnetic-field direction (purple arrow). Blue indicates attractive interactions, and red indicates repulsive interactions. Darker colors indicate higher interaction energy.
Credit: Covey/JILA

Physicists have created a crystal-like arrangement of ultracold gas molecules that can swap quantum "spin" properties with nearby and distant partners. The novel structure might be used to simulate or even invent new materials that derive exotic properties from quantum spin behavior, for electronics or other practical applications.

Related Articles


Described in a Nature paper posted online on Sept. 18, 2013, the JILA* experiment is the first to record ultracold gas molecules exchanging spins at a distance, a behavior that may be similar to that of intriguing solids such as "frustrated" magnets with competing internal forces, or high-temperature superconductors, which transmit electricity without resistance. The new results build on the same JILA team's prior creation of the first molecular quantum gases and demonstrations of ultracold chemistry.

"One of the main thrusts for our cold molecules research was to realize this interaction, so this is a major breakthrough," NIST/JILA Fellow Jun Ye says. "We can now explore very exotic new phases of quantum systems." NIST/JILA Fellow Deborah Jin points out that "these interactions are advantageous for creating models of quantum magnetism because they do not require the molecules to move around" the crystal structure.

The new JILA crystal has advantages over other experimental quantum simulators, which typically use atoms. Molecules, made of two or more atoms, have a broader range of properties, and thus, might be used to simulate more complex materials. Jin and Ye are especially interested in using the structure to create new materials not found in nature. An example might be topological insulators -- a hot topic in physics -- which might transmit data encoded in various spin patterns in future transistors, sensors or quantum computers.

The molecules used in the JILA experiments are made of one potassium atom bonded to one rubidium atom. The molecules are polar, with a positive electric charge at the rubidium end and a negative charge at the potassium end. This feature means the molecules can interact strongly and can be controlled with electric fields.

In the latest experiment, about 20,000 molecules were trapped in an optical lattice, an ordered pattern that looks like a stack of egg cartons created by intersecting laser beams. The lattice was only partly filled, with about one molecule per every 10 lattice wells. The lattice suppressed the molecules' travel and chemical reactions, allowing their internal properties to guide interactions.

The JILA team used microwave pulses to manipulate the molecules' spins, or natural rotations around an axis -- similar to a spinning top -- to create a "superposition" of two opposite spins at the same time. Scientists then observed oscillating patterns in the average spin of all the molecules, as well as a falloff or decay in the spin signal over time, indicating the molecules were swapping spins.

Scientists calculated the interaction energy that each molecule experiences with all other molecules in the lattice, with the energy intensity depending on the distance and angle between pairs (see graphic). JILA theorist Ana Maria Ray's modeling of spin oscillations and time periods agreed with the experimental measurements. Ye says the spin-swapping interactions "entangle" the molecules, a signature feature of the quantum world that links the properties of physically separated particles.

The results are expected to open up a new field in which scientists create customized molecular spin models in solid-like structures held in place by the lattice. JILA scientists plan to fill the lattice more fully and add an external electric field to increase the variety of spin models that can be created.

*JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. The research was funded by NIST, the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Department of Energy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


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. Bo Yan, Steven A. Moses, Bryce Gadway, Jacob P. Covey, Kaden R. A. Hazzard, Ana Maria Rey, Deborah S. Jin, Jun Ye. Observation of dipolar spin-exchange interactions with lattice-confined polar molecules. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12483

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Beyond quantum simulation: Physicists create 'crystal' of spin-swapping ultracold molecules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918132444.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2013, September 18). Beyond quantum simulation: Physicists create 'crystal' of spin-swapping ultracold molecules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918132444.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Beyond quantum simulation: Physicists create 'crystal' of spin-swapping ultracold molecules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918132444.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber 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:

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