Nobel Prize-Winner Confirms UQ Quantum Physics Theory

June 2, 2004

A novel quantum theory developed by University of Queensland, Australia researchers has been confirmed by recent experiments at a Nobel Prize-winning lab.

Professor Bill Phillips’ Nobel Prize-winning group at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has published an experimental confirmation of a theoretical prediction by Dr Karen Kheruntsyan and Professor Peter Drummond from the UQ node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum-Atom Optics.

The recent theoretical work carried out by the UQ physicists, in collaboration with their colleagues at Ecole Normale Superiere of France (ENS), was the first calculation of spatial pair correlations of an ultra-cold gas of atoms in one dimension.

Although these systems were first modelled in the 1960s, no exact pair correlations have been calculated in 40 years. Usually the treatment of quantum many-particle systems require supercomputers to obtain any solution.

Instead, the rigorous and exact theory employed by the theoretical team from UQ and France used a simple combination of mathematical ideas without supercomputers

The UQ theory was first published in August last year in the prestigious USA journal, the Physical Review Letters, which also recently published the NIST results.

The theory, in layman’s terms, is if a gas of a certain type of atoms is confined to a spherical container and cooled to a very low temperature all the atoms can suddenly enter into a recently discovered state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this state, all the atoms behave as waves and “sing in unison” like a laser beam.

In contrast to this situation, if the motion of atoms is confined to a one-dimensional line, the gas surprisingly shows richer behaviour than in a three-dimensional sphere.

Not only can the gas show laser-like behaviour, but also the atoms can try to either bunch together or to completely avoid each other, depending on the density and temperature.

As all particles in nature are either bosons or fermions, this last case demonstrates a unique and fascinating situation where one type of fundamental particle, the boson, can behave like its counterpart, the fermion.

Possible applications of the research are the development of atom lasers, high-precision interferometry and “atom-chip” devices.

The original news release can be found on the University of Queensland web-site.

Explore further: Building blocks of life's building blocks come from starlight

Related Stories

Building blocks of life's building blocks come from starlight

October 13, 2016

Life exists in a myriad of wondrous forms, but if you break any organism down to its most basic parts, it's all the same stuff: carbon atoms connected to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. But how these fundamental ...

Atomic scale pipes available on demand and by design

September 7, 2016

Materials containing tiny capillaries and cavities are widely used in filtration, separation and many other technologies, without which our modern lifestyle would be impossible. Those materials are usually found by luck or ...

What happened after the lights came on in the universe?

September 14, 2016

An experiment to explore the aftermath of cosmic dawn, when stars and galaxies first lit up the universe, has received nearly $10 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to expand its detector array in South ...

Recommended for you

Shocks in the early universe could be detectable today

October 27, 2016

(—Physicists have discovered a surprising consequence of a widely supported model of the early universe: according to the model, tiny cosmological perturbations produced shocks in the radiation fluid just a fraction ...

Bubble nucleus discovered

October 27, 2016

Research conducted at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University has shed new light on the structure of the nucleus, that tiny congregation of protons and neutrons found at the core of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.