Macroscopic Quantum Behavior

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ron Morehead_Quantum_Physics_Macroscopic Quantum Behavior

The wavelike behavior of a room-temperature polariton condensate has been demonstrated on a macroscopic length scale for the very first time. This work has provided significant development in the understanding and manipulation of quantum objects. Read about the significance of this new development and what it means for the future of manipulating and further our understanding of quantum objects below.

Quantum mechanics tells us that objects exhibit not only particle-like behavior, but also wavelike behavior with a wavelength inversely proportional to the object’s velocity. Normally, this behavior can only be observed at atomic length scales. There is one important exception, however: with bosons, particles of a particular type that can be combined in large numbers in the same quantum state, it is possible to form macroscopic-scale quantum objects, called Bose-Einstein condensates.

These are at the root of some of quantum physics’ most fascinating phenomena, such as superfluidity and superconductivity. Their scientific importance is so great that their creation, nearly 70 years after their existence was theorized, earned researchers Eric Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle and Carl Wieman the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001.

A trap for half-light, half-matter quasi-particles

Placing particles in the same state to obtain a condensate normally requires the temperature to be lowered to a level near absolute zero: conditions achievable only with complex laboratory techniques and expensive cryogenic equipment.

“Unlike work carried out to date, which has mainly used ultracold atomic gases, our research allows comprehensive studies of condensation to be performed in condensed matter systems under ambient conditions” explains Mr. Daskalakis. He notes that this is a key step toward carrying out physics projects that currently remain purely theoretical.

To produce the room-temperature condensate, the team of researchers from Polytechnique and Imperial College first created a device that makes it possible for polaritons – hybrid quasi-particles that are part light and part matter – to exist. The device is composed of a film of organic molecules 100 nanometers thick, confined between two nearly perfect mirrors. The condensate is created by first exciting a sufficient number of polaritons using a laser and then observed via the blue light it emits. Its dimensions can be comparable to that of a human hair, a gigantic size on the quantum scale.

“To date, the majority of polariton experiments continue to use ultra-pure crystalline semiconductors,” says Professor Kéna-Cohen. “Our work demonstrates that it is possible to obtain comparable quantum behavior using ‘impure’ and disordered materials such as organic molecules. This has the advantage of allowing for much simpler and lower-cost fabrication.”

The improved understanding and ability to manipulate quantum objects could allow theoretical physics projects to make significant leaps forward and possibly further our knowledge of the world in unforeseeable ways. Ron Morehead has been investigating the Bigfoot phenomena for over 4 decades and has come to believe the answers may lay in the further understanding of Quantum Physics.

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