Nobel Prize-Winner Confirms UQ Quantum Physics Theory

Jun 02, 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: Argonne research expanding from injectors to inhalers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How are planets formed?

Jan 30, 2015

How did the Solar System's planets come to be? The leading theory is something known as the "protoplanet hypothesis", which essentially says that very small objects stuck to each other and grew bigger and ...

Ten interesting facts about asteroids

Feb 03, 2015

At first glance, looking at a bunch of space rocks doesn't sound that exciting. Like, aren't they just a bunch of rubble? What use can they be in understanding the Solar System compared to looking at planets ...

Decoding the gravitational evolution of dark matter halos

Jan 13, 2015

Researchers at Kavli IPMU and their collaborators have revealed that considering environmental effects such as a gravitational tidal force spread over a scale much larger than a galaxy cluster is indispensable ...

Recommended for you

Argonne research expanding from injectors to inhalers

4 hours ago

There is a world of difference between tailpipes and windpipes, but researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have managed to link the two with groundbreaking research that could ...

Pennies reveal new insights on the nature of randomness

10 hours ago

The concept of randomness appears across scientific disciplines, from materials science to molecular biology. Now, theoretical chemists at Princeton have challenged traditional interpretations of randomness ...

User comments : 0

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.