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Instrument adapted from astronomy helps capture singular quantum interference effects

Instrument adapted from astronomy observation helps capture singular quantum interference effects
The electron beam ion trap the Tokyo-EBIT. Credit: The University of Electro-Communications

By adapting technology used for gamma-ray astronomy, a group of experimental researchers has found that X-ray transitions previously thought to have been unpolarized according to atomic physics, are in fact highly polarized, reports a new study published in Physical Review Letters on March 15.

When electrons recombine with highly charged ions, X-ray polarization becomes important for testing fundamental involving relativistic and quantum electrodynamics effects. But to date, experimental researchers have been challenged by the technical difficulties these experiments require.

A team of researchers led by the University of Electro-Communications Institute for Laser Science Professor Nobuyuki Nakamura, and including Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) Professor Tadayuki Takahashi and graduate student Yutaka Tsuzuki, and Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS/JAXA) Associate Professor Shin Watanabe, successfully combined two state-of-the-art instruments and technologies to measure the polarization of high-energy X-rays emitted when highly charged ions capture high-energy electrons.

The first is the electron beam ion trap the Tokyo-EBIT, which is one of the world's leading highly charged ion generators and experimental instruments owned by the University of Electro-Communications, and the second is the Si/CdTe Compton Camera for high-energy X-rays, which was developed for mainly at ISAS/JAXA and improved for this research.

Instrument adapted from astronomy observation helps capture singular quantum interference effects
The Si/CdTe Compton Camera (left) attached to the Tokyo-EBIT. Credit: University of Electro-Communications, JAXA

The technology behind the Si/CdTe Compton Camera was originally developed by a team led by Takahashi to study X-rays and in the universe released by highly energized , supernovae and , and was built into the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) ASTRO-H satellite, launched in 2016.

Takahashi had been looking for a way to adapt the technology to other fields. After a meeting with Nakamura, Takahashi began to work on designing the X-ray polarization experiment and implementing the Si/CdTe Compton Camera into the method.

Tsuzuki carried out a large part of the calibration and simulation of the Compton camera.

Tsukuba University Associate Professor Xiao-Min Tong, Institute for Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics Distinguished Research Fellow Xiang Gao, and National Institute for Fusion Science Associate Professor Daiji Kato made a theoretical analysis of the results, which revealed that the unexpectedly large polarization observed in the experiment was the result of quantum interference effects, where quantum mechanical probability waves interfere with each other. Normally, the initial states of two waves must be equal in order for interference to occur, but it was also revealed that the observed polarization was caused by a peculiar interference effect between two waves with different angular momenta.

More information: Nobuyuki Nakamura et al, Strong Polarization of a J=1/2 to 1/2 Transition Arising from Unexpectedly Large Quantum Interference, Physical Review Letters (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.130.113001

Journal information: Physical Review Letters

Provided by Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

Citation: Instrument adapted from astronomy helps capture singular quantum interference effects (2023, March 20) retrieved 21 June 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-instrument-astronomy-capture-singular-quantum.html
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