Observation of quantized heating in quantum matter

February 19, 2019, Université libre de Bruxelles
Ultracold atoms in laser light demonstrate the quantization of circular dichroism. Credit: Nathan Goldman

Shaking a physical system typically heats it up, in the sense that the system continuously absorbs energy. When considering a circular shaking pattern, the amount of energy that is absorbed can potentially depend on the orientation of the circular drive (clockwise/anti-clockwise), a general phenomenon known as circular dichroism.

In 2017, Nathan Goldman (ULB, Brussels), Peter Zoller (IQOQI, Innsbruck) and coworkers predicted that can be quantized in (heating is then constrained by strict integers) forming a "topological state." According to this , the quantization of energy absorption upon circular driving can be directly related to topology, a fundamental mathematical concept that characterizes these intriguing states of matter.

Writing in Nature Physics, the experimental group of Klaus Sengstock and Christof Weitenberg (Hamburg), in collaboration with the team of Nathan Goldman, reports on the first observation of quantized circular dichroism. Following the theoretical proposal of Goldman, Zoller et al., the experimentalists realized a topological state using an ultracold atomic gas subjected to , and studied its heating properties upon circular shaking of the gas. By finely monitoring the heating rates of their system, for a wide range of driving frequencies, they were able to validate the quantization law predicted by Goldman, Zoller et al. in 2017, in agreement with the underlying topological state realized in the laboratory.

Beyond the beauty of this phenomenon, which connects heating processes to topology through an elegant quantization law, the results reported in this work designate heating measurements as a powerful and universal probe for exotic states of matter.

Explore further: How heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter

More information: Luca Asteria et al. Measuring quantized circular dichroism in ultracold topological matter, Nature Physics (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41567-019-0417-8

Related Stories

Chirality in real time

January 11, 2019

Distinguishing between left-handed and right-handed (chiral) molecules is crucial in chemistry and the life sciences, and is commonly achieved using a method called circular dichroism. However, during biochemical reactions, ...

Simulation of chiral edge states in a quantum system

September 25, 2015

Researchers in Florence and Innsbruck have simulated a physical phenomenon in an atomic quantum gas that can also be observed at the edge of some condensed matter systems: chiral currents. The scientists have published the ...

Exotic quantum states: A new research approach

October 3, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Theoretical physicists of the University of Innsbruck have formulated a new concept to engineer exotic, so-called topological states of matter in quantum mechanical many-body systems. They linked concepts ...

Recommended for you

ATLAS experiment observes light scattering off light

March 20, 2019

Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons interact, producing another pair of photons. This process was among the earliest predictions of quantum electrodynamics (QED), the quantum theory of ...

How heavy elements come about in the universe

March 19, 2019

Heavy elements are produced during stellar explosion or on the surfaces of neutron stars through the capture of hydrogen nuclei (protons). This occurs at extremely high temperatures, but at relatively low energies. An international ...

Trembling aspen leaves could save future Mars rovers

March 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Warwick have been inspired by the unique movement of trembling aspen leaves, to devise an energy harvesting mechanism that could power weather sensors in hostile environments and could even ...

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields

March 15, 2019

A new way of measuring atomic-scale magnetic fields with great precision, not only up and down but sideways as well, has been developed by researchers at MIT. The new tool could be useful in applications as diverse as mapping ...

0 comments

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.