Particle Physicists Create Artificial Atoms For Research Purposes

Particle Physicists Create Artificial Atoms For Research Purposes

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).

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.

Unlike stars and galaxies, dark matter does not emit any light or electromagnetic radiation of any kind, so that we can detect it only through its gravitational effects. In the first moments after the Big Bang, the universe was extremely hot and dense. As the universe cooled, conditions became just right to give rise to the building blocks of matter – the quarks and electrons of which we are all made. A few millionths of a second later, quarks aggregated to produce protons and neutrons. As the universe continued to expand and cool, things began to happen more slowly.


This nanoscale dance of atoms can thus be observed as orange and red flashes of fluorescence, which are signatures of atoms undergoing rearrangements. The gold nano-antenna also amplifies the very faint light scattered by the newly formed atomic defects, making it visible to the naked eye. In recent decades, NMR spectroscopy has made it possible to capture the spatial structure of chemical and biochemical molecules.

Welcome To The Quantum Optics Lab

In their experiments, they use microstructured “atom chips” to laser-cool, trap, and coherently manipulate clouds of ultracold atoms. Using tailored magnetic potentials generated by current-carrying wires on the chip, they perform experiments on the quantum physics of atomic Bose-Einstein condensates . In particular, they investigate many-particle entangled states of the BECs and their possible application in quantum metrology and quantum information processing. Furthermore, they use the atoms as sensitive probes for electromagnetic fields near the chip surface and to study the dynamics of on-chip solid-state systems such as tiny mechanical oscillators.

  • Beside the PSI the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and CERN are involved in the PiHe collaboration.
  • 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 structural and functional changes of charged molecules are important in catalysis, electrochemistry, photoconversion and charge transfer .

The ratio between voltage and energy consumption is exponential rather than proportional. This means that when voltage is reduced by a factor of ten, energy consumption decreases by a factor of one hundred. As such, the single-atom switch already uses ten thousand times less energy than today’s silicon semiconductor technology.


In Basel, the group continues its research in the field of quantum optics and ultracold atoms. The unexpected findings raise new questions about the exact microscopic mechanisms by which a weak continuous green light can put some gold atoms into motion. “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. In the new study, EPFL researchers managed to entangle the photon and the phonon (i.e., light and vibration) produced in the fission of an incoming laser photon inside the crystal. To do so, the scientists designed an experiment in which the photon-phonon pair could be created at two different instants. Classically, it would result in a situation where the pair is created at time t1 with 50% probability, or at a later time t2 with 50% probability.

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.

This Community Roadmap will outline technological milestones as well as refine interim and long-term scientific goals. Moreover, we study the minute changes in the molecular structure, related to different charge states. The structural and functional changes of charged molecules are important in catalysis, electrochemistry, photoconversion and charge transfer . We employ molecule characterization by AFM and STM to identify molecules in our search for novel natural products to verify synthesized molecules and to study the properties of elusive molecules created by atom manipulation . “Continuous beams of cold atoms for space applications”, Applied Physics B, 84, 659 .

Faculté Des Sciences

It took 380,000 years for electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms. These were mainly helium and hydrogen, which are still by far the most abundant elements in the universe. Present observations suggest that the first stars formed from clouds of gas around 150–200 million years after the Big Bang. 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. He grew up in rural Toggenburg, in eastern Switzerland, where his father owned a textile factory in the Neckertal region. As a child, Leuthold paid close attention when the repairman serviced the machines, and he took over this task when he was a teenager.

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