Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Otago physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Otago physicists split and collide ultracold atom clouds

University of Otago 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 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.

Kris is now a Master’s student in Dr Kjaergaard’s research group. The group’s work on the tweezers system is funded through a Marsden Fund of New Zealand grant.

QuickTime movies demonstrating capabilities of the optical tweezers unit:

• Splitting atomic clouds with laser tweezers

• 'Littlest hadron collider' at work

• The videos can also be viewed on this page: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-03/uoo-nzp033114.php

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Australians Scoring Trade Points Against Us With The Chinese

It hasn’t been a great year for Trade Minister Tim Groser... To top it off, Australia has just signed a FTA with China that has far better provisions on dairy exports than what New Zealand currently enjoys in our own FTA with China. More>>

ALSO:

Iwi & Local Consultation: Oil And Gas Block Offer 2015 Begins

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today announced the start of the Block Offer 2015 process for awarding oil and gas exploration permits. More>>

Industrial Action: Stats NZ Throwing Public Money Away Duplicating Data

The Public Service Association (PSA) says Statistics NZ are throwing money away by collecting the same data twice for official statistics such as the Consumer Price Index... As part of the ongoing industrial action, field interviewers who are PSA members are continuing to collect data, but are not sending it through to Statistics NZ. More>>

ALSO:

Other Stats:

Space: Rosetta's 'Philae' Makes Historic First Landing On A Comet

After more than a decade traveling through space, a robotic lander built by the European Space Agency has made the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news