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Research News

November 25, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Quantum Insulation

Two physical phenomena, localization and ergodicity-breaking, are conjoined in new experimental and theoretical work.  Before we consider possible implications for fundamental physics and for prospective quantum computing, let’s first look at these two topics in turn.  It will bear providing some specific examples before getting to the quantum details.


November 11, 2015 | Research News

Frigid Ytterbium

For many years rubidium has been a workhorse in the investigation of ultracold atoms.  Now JQI scientists are using Rb to cool another species, ytterbium, an element prized for its possible use in advanced optical clocks and in studying basic quantum phenomena.   Yb shows itself useful in another way: it comes in numerous available isotopes, some of which are bosonic in nature and some fermionic.

November 4, 2015 | Research News

Photon-counting calibrations

From NIST-PML — Precise measurements of optical power enable activities from fiber-optic communications to laser manufacturing and biomedical imaging — anything requiring a reliable source of light. This situation calls for light-measuring (radiometric) standards that can operate over a wide range of power levels.

September 29, 2015 | PFC | Research News

At the edge of a quantum gas

From NIST-PML--JQI scientists have achieved a major milestone in simulating the dynamics of condensed-matter systems – such as the behavior of charged particles in semiconductors and other materials – through manipulation of carefully controlled quantum-mechanical models.

September 23, 2015 | Research News

Twisting Neutrons

 It’s easy to contemplate the wave nature of light in common experience.  White light passing through a prism spreads out into constituent colors; it diffracts from atmospheric moisture into a rainbow; light passing across a sharp edge or a diffraction grating creates an interference pattern.  It’s harder to fathom the wave behavior of things usually thought of as particles, such as electrons and atoms.  And yet these matter waves play a role in physics and in technology.  For example, electron beams, manifested as waves, provide an important form of microscopy.

September 17, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Beyond Majorana: Ultracold gases as a platform for observing exotic robust quantum states

The quantum Hall effect, discovered in the early 1980s, is a phenomenon that was observed in a two-dimensional gas of electrons existing at the interface between two semiconductor layers. Subject to the severe criteria of very high material purity and very low temperatures, the electrons, when under the influence of a large magnetic field, will organize themselves into an ensemble state featuring remarkable properties.

September 9, 2015 | PFC | Research News

JQI Physicists Show ‘Molecules’ Made of Light May Be Possible

From NIST TechBeat--It’s not lightsaber time, not yet. But a team including theoretical physicists from JQI and NIST has taken another step toward building objects out of photons, and the findings hint that weightless particles of light can be joined into a sort of “molecule” with its own peculiar force. Researchers show that two photons, depicted in this artist’s conception as waves (left and right), can be locked together at a short distance.

September 2, 2015 | Research News

Strange Metallic Behavior

The two-dimensional physical properties of semiconductor materials depend keenly on a number of factors, such as material purity, surface orientation, flatness, surface reconstruction, charge carrier polarity, and temperature.  JQI (*) scientists have optimized a number of these parameters to produce the first ever ultra-high mobility,  two-dimensional Si(111) transistor that allows charge carriers (electrons or holes) to flow through the same conduction channel by merely changing an external gate voltage.

August 21, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Thermometry using an optical nanofiber

Experimental quantum physics often resides in the coldest regimes found in the universe, where the lack of large thermal disturbances allows quantum effects to flourish. A key ingredient to these experiments is being able to measure just how cold the system of interest is. Laboratories that produce ultracold gas clouds have a simple and reliable method to do this: take pictures! The temperature of a gas depends on the range of velocities among the particles, namely the size of the difference between the slowest- and the fastest-moving particles.

August 11, 2015 | Research News

Using an electron to probe the tiny magnetic core of an atom

Precise information about the magnetic properties of nuclei is critical for studies of what’s known as the ‘weak force.’ While people do not feel this force in the same way they feel electricity or gravity, its effects are universal. The weak force allows stuff to become unglued and form new elements through decay—the sun, for example, is powered through deuterium fuel, which is generated via weak force mediated interactions. The weak force is elusive as it operates between objects that are separated by miniscule distances deep within atomic nuclei.

July 27, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Interacting Ion Qutrits

Symmetry permeates nature, from the radial symmetry of flowers to the left-right symmetry of the human body. As such, it provides a natural way of classifying objects by grouping those that share the same symmetry. This is particularly useful for describing transitions between phases of matter. For example, liquid and gas phases have translational symmetry, meaning the arrangement of molecules doesn’t change regardless of the direction from which they are observed.


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