Using minimal electrical voltage, a single atom is then slipped between the two pads, causing a digital signal to be emitted (cf. image). This principle is what gave rise to the name “atomic-scale technology”. Our experiments exploit the extreme versatility and sensitivity of our home built low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope/atomic force microscope (STM/AFM). We explore fundamental quantum physics with atoms, photons and phonons and harness it for applications in quantum technology. In our experiments we study many-particle entanglement in Bose-Einstein condensates, explore hybrid atom-optomechanical systems, and develop quantum memories and sensors with atomic vapour cells.

  • Now researchers at ETH have found a way to apply this measurement principle to individual atoms.
  • “Answering them will be key to bringing optical nano-antennas from the lab into the world of applications – and we are working on it,” says Wen Chen, the study’s first author.
  • To enable efficient testing and specific improvement, one would ideally like to measure all components of the microwave field directly and with very high spatial resolution.
  • Heavier atoms such as carbon, oxygen and iron, have since been continuously produced in the hearts of stars and catapulted throughout the universe in spectacular stellar explosions called supernovae.
  • The results of the PiHe experiment so far are therefore an intermediate step on the way to an even more precise determination of the mass of the pion.

This workshop follows the submission of a community letter, which outlined the intention to organise a community workshop is to discuss options for a quantum technology development programme coordinated at the Europe-wide level. An even more mysterious form of energy called “dark energy” accounts for about 70% of the mass-energy content of the universe. This idea stems from the observation that all galaxies seems to be receding from each other at an accelerating pace, implying that some invisible extra energy is at work. Phillips, “Laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms”, Rev. Mod. Ashkin, “Acceleration and trapping of particles by radiation pressure”, Phys. The process described above should therefore be seen as the fission of an incoming photon from the laser into a pair of photon and phonon – akin to nuclear fission of an atom into two smaller pieces.

Cern Accelerating Science

Now researchers at ETH have found a way to apply this measurement principle to individual atoms. One can attach and detach single electron charges to molecules and atoms using the microscope tip . Using Kelvin probe force microscopy, we detect atomic charge states and molecular charge distributions . Imaging the structure of molecules with atomic resolution was achieved by noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM).


To solve this problem, they developed a special measurement method to capture the spin of the carbon atom through a series of weak measurements in quick succession. As a result, they were able to keep the influence of their observation so small as to not influence the system measurably, leaving the original circular motion perceptible. The technique is based on nuclear magnetic resonance, which takes advantage of the fact that certain atomic nuclei interact with a magnetic field. A key factor here is the nuclear spin, which can be compared with the spinning of a child’s top.

Each pair of neighboring atoms oscillated like two masses linked by a spring, and this oscillation was synchronous across the entire illuminated region. To conserve energy during this process, a light of a new color is emitted, shifted toward the red of the spectrum. Standard chips are energy guzzlers compared to the single-atom optical switch. In an effort to circumvent this limitation, researchers are engineering metallic nano-antennas that concentrate light into a tiny volume to dramatically enhance any signal coming from the same nanoscale region. Nano-antennas are the backbone of nanoplasmonics, a field that is profoundly impacting biosensing, photochemistry, solar energy harvesting, and photonics.

The research alliance between Zurich and Karlsruhe is now united in the new Centre of Atomic Scale Technologies. Although the collaboration has only recently begun, the research groups involved were predestined for the task at hand. Thomas Schimmel is a pioneer of electronic circuits at the level of the atom, and Jürg Leuthold has demonstrated in his past research that photonic switches are possible at the atomic level. Moreover, Leuthold was the first researcher able to place both optical and electronic switching elements on the same chip. The tiny chip is also a modulator that can transform electrical signals into light signals and vice-versa—an extremely useful feature for transmitting data in fibre optic cables.

As an intense source of slow cesium atoms”, Eur. Phys. J., Appl. Phys. 34, 21 . An especially counter-intuitive feature of quantum mechanics is that a single event can exist in a state of superposition – happening bothhereandthere, or bothtodayandtomorrow. The minuscule chip has the potential to revolutionise the semi-conductor industry. Moreover, the energy the technology saves could be channelled into boosting the performance of next-generation computers. A close-up of the single-atom switch is found further down in the text.

We discovered and characterized reversible switches based on bond formation between a metal atom and a molecule , cyclization in radicals and switching atomic charge states and adsorption geometries . In addition to conducting applied research for developing the novel, energy-efficient transistor, the team are also exploring fundamental questions in physics. For instance, they have observed that a single atom’s conductivity is not a fixed quantity; rather, it depends on the atom’s environment and its structural organisation in a collective with other atoms.

The Microchip Of The Future

One goal of these experiments is to realize hybrid quantum systems in which ultracold atoms and a solid-state system on the chip interact coherently. In existing techniques for measuring microwaves , the field distribution has to be scanned point-by-point, so that data acquisition is slow. Moreover, most techniques only allow for a measurement of the amplitudes, but not of the phases of the microwave field. Furthermore, macroscopic probe heads used for the measurement can distort the microwave field and result in poor spatial resolution. We have recently developed a novel technique that avoids these drawbacks and allows for the direct and complete imaging of microwave magnetic fields with high spatial resolution . In this technique, tiny clouds of laser-cooled ultracold atoms serve as non-invasive probes for the microwave field.

In 1998 two teams of astronomers working independently at Berkeley, California observed that supernovae – exploding stars – were moving away from Earth at an accelerating rate. Physicists had assumed that matter in the universe would slow its rate of expansion; gravity would eventually cause the universe to fall back on its centre. Though the Big Bang theory cannot describe what the conditions were at the very beginning of the universe, it can help physicists describe the earliest moments after the start of the expansion. At CERN, we probe the fundamental structure of particles that make up everything around us. We do so using the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments.

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