Revolutionary Atomic

Revolutionary Atomic

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.


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.

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.

Revolutionary Single

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 new experiment requires a lower density target to study the collision effects caused by other helium atoms, and other, more narrow atomic transitions will be also probed by the PiHe collaboration. It was in 1947 when the British physicist Cecil Powell and colleagues discovered a new particle – the pion – in the upper earth’s atmosphere. This particle is created when cosmic rays from the vastness of the universe hit the Earth’s atmosphere. Three years after the discovery of the pion, Powell received the Nobel Prize.

The resulting flow of electricity can be used to power common electronic devices—for example, a halogen lamp, as Schimmel has demonstrated in his Karlsruhe lab. In our experiment , the microwave field to be imaged drives a transition between two hyperfine states of the atoms. The probability of finding an atom in either state thereby oscillates with a Rabi frequency which depends on the local microwave field strength at the position of the atom.

  • 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 .
  • If the nano-components are shunted by the million, they could make a major contribution to dealing with the continually increasing flow and ever-faster transmission of data in the internet.
  • A control voltage is responsible for moving the atom, thus for turning the single-atom switch on and off.
  • Furthermore, macroscopic probe heads used for the measurement can distort the microwave field and result in poor spatial resolution.
  • As an intense source of slow cesium atoms”, Eur. Phys. J., Appl. Phys. 34, 21 .
  • Although the collaboration has only recently begun, the research groups involved were predestined for the task at hand.

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.


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.

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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We also perform density functional theory calculations to elucidate the physical origins of the contrast observed. The calculations reveal that the Pauli repulsion is the source of the atomic resolution and yield insights into the important role of the tip functionalization . Astronomical and physical calculations suggest that the visible universe is only a tiny amount (4%) of what the universe is actually made of. A very large fraction of the universe, in fact 26%, is made of an unknown type of matter called “dark matter”.

Scientists at EPFL discover that laser-driven rearrangement of just a few gold atoms inside nanoscale antennas can be observed by the naked eye. This community workshop will build upon one organised two years ago , which also reviewed the cold atom experiment landscape for space. This event will bring together the cold atom, astrophysics, cosmology, fundamental physics, and earth observation communities to shape this development programme. Quantum systems are hard to pin down, as any measurement will also influence the system being observed. Therefore, the researchers were unable to track the precession continuously; its movement would have been changed too drastically.

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