Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teaching matter waves new tricks: Making magnets with ultra cold atoms

Date:
November 27, 2013
Source:
University of Hamburg
Summary:
Scientists have developed a novel approach to understand magnets.

A novel experiment at the University of Hamburg utilizes matter waves to understand magnets. Magnets are built of elementary magnets which can point North (red) and South (blue), as can be seen in this computer simulation.
Credit: Center for Optical Quantum Technologies (ZOQ)

Magnets have fascinated humankind for millenia. From the Greek philosophers to scientists of the modern era, which saw the rise of quantum mechanics, magnets have been pondered and investigated. Nowadays, they are not only intriguing oddities of nature, but also constitute crucial building blocks of modern technology: Ranging from data storage over medical instrumentation to transportation. And yet, to this day, they continue to puzzle scientists.

A novel approach to understand magnets was taken by a team of scientists lead by Klaus Sengstock and Ludwig Mathey from the Institute of Laser Physics at the University of Hamburg, with collaborators from Dresden, Innsbruck and Barcelona. In a joint experimental and theoretical effort, which was featured as the cover story of Nature Physics in November 2013, quantum matter waves made of Rubidium atoms were controlled in such a way that they mimic magnets. Under these well-defined conditions, these artificially created magnets can be studied with clarity, and can give a fresh perspective on long-standing riddles.

Quantum matter waves themselves are an intriguing state of atomic Rubidium clouds, based on a quantum mechanical effect predicted by Einstein and Bose as early as 1924 and observed for the first time in a ground-breaking experiment in 1995, which was later awarded with the Nobel prize.

Building on that experiment and developing it further, the team of scientists used infrared laser beams to force the atoms into a motion along triangular pathways, creating quantum matter waves that act as if they were magnets, like the ones you stick on your fridge. Speaking of cold, these atoms are about a trillion times colder than outer space.

"The experimental challenges are extraordinary," says lead experimental author Julian Struck. "For the atoms to move along the right trajectories, it is absolutely crucial that the laser beams are precisely stabilized. Otherwise, the motion of the atoms would be completely chaotic."

When a matter wave moves clockwise around a given triangle, as depicted in the illustration, the neighboring triangles are surrounded by counterclockwise motion. The resulting orientation at each triangle corresponds to a magnet pointing in North or South direction. These elementary magnets form domains and are in competition with each other, depicted in red and blue.

Lead theoretical author Robert Höppner explains: "We had to use a supercomputing facility such as the one at Juelich for our computer simulations of the experiment. Otherwise the complexity of the problem cannot be tackled. This allowed us to visualize the triangular magnets created by the condensate of atoms, and we learned about the subtle domain structure and how they respond in a magnetic field."

The results of this study have been published in the November issue of Nature Physics, where an illustration of the magnetic phases from the computer simulation is featured on the cover.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Struck, M. Weinberg, C. Ölschläger, P. Windpassinger, J. Simonet, K. Sengstock, R. Höppner, P. Hauke, A. Eckardt, M. Lewenstein, L. Mathey. Engineering Ising-XY spin-models in a triangular lattice using tunable artificial gauge fields. Nature Physics, 2013; 9 (11): 738 DOI: 10.1038/nphys2750

Cite This Page:

University of Hamburg. "Teaching matter waves new tricks: Making magnets with ultra cold atoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110601.htm>.
University of Hamburg. (2013, November 27). Teaching matter waves new tricks: Making magnets with ultra cold atoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110601.htm
University of Hamburg. "Teaching matter waves new tricks: Making magnets with ultra cold atoms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110601.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) — Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) — Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) — Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
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