Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds using steerable 'optical tweezers'

Date:
March 31, 2014
Source:
University of Otago
Summary:
Physicists have pushed the frontiers of quantum technology by developing a steerable 'optical tweezers' unit that uses intense laser beams to precisely split minute clouds of ultracold atoms and to smash them together. The researchers' feat is set to enhance efforts to understand the mysterious ways that atoms interact at temperatures of less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.

Physicists from New Zealands' University of Otago have pushed the frontiers of quantum technology by developing a steerable 'optical tweezers' unit that uses intense laser beams to precisely split a cloud of ultracold rubidium atoms in two and then collide the halves together at a pedestrian pace.
Credit: Niels Kjaergaard

Physicists at New Zealand's University of Otago have pushed the frontiers of quantum technology by developing a steerable 'optical tweezers' unit that uses intense laser beams to precisely split minute clouds of ultracold atoms and to smash them together.

The Otago researchers' feat is set to enhance efforts to understand the mysterious ways that atoms interact at temperatures of less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. Its potential applications include new tools for probing microscopic structures or for sensors that can map minute variations in magnetic fields, says lead researcher Dr Niels Kjaergaard.

A description of their cutting-edge system is published in the April 1 issue of the US journal Optics Letters. It details an experiment in which the researchers used the technology to split a single ultracold cloud of rubidium atoms sequentially into 32 daughter clouds, spreading them out over nearly half a centimetre.

"This sort of precise control of these atoms is like being able to pull a delicate snowflake into two clean halves with your bare hands. It's quite remarkable that we are able to manipulate such minute and fragile samples while moving them such a comparatively large distance," Dr Kjaergaard says.

The experimental setup involves steering horizontal and vertical laser beams around through their interaction with precisely controlled travelling acoustic waves. These steerable laser beams confine and move the atoms. As well as splitting atom clouds, the system allows them to be collided.

"Tongue-in-cheek, we like to refer to our setup as the 'Littlest Hadron Collider'. In some ways it's the complete opposite of what is the world's largest and most powerful particle collider, because instead of using extreme acceleration, we smash our atom clouds together at a pedestrian pace of up to a metre per second," Kjaergaard says.

The steerable optical tweezers unit was constructed as part of Kris Roberts' Honour's thesis project in Dr Kjaergaard's research group at the Jack Dodd Centre for Quantum Technology at the Department of Physics, while the control system for the acoustic waves was built by Master's student Thomas McKellar.

"For researchers who are still students, these are quite notable achievements and I'm very proud of their work. It demonstrates the fantastic training opportunities that Otago can offer in its Physics programme," Dr Kjaergaard says.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. K. O. Roberts, T. McKellar, J. Fekete, A. Rakonjac, A. B. Deb, N. Kjζrgaard. Steerable optical tweezers for ultracold atom studies. Optics Letters, 2014; 39 (7): 2012 DOI: 10.1364/OL.39.002012

Cite This Page:

University of Otago. "Physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds using steerable 'optical tweezers'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331114231.htm>.
University of Otago. (2014, March 31). Physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds using steerable 'optical tweezers'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331114231.htm
University of Otago. "Physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds using steerable 'optical tweezers'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331114231.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) — Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) — The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) — AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
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