Dance for me, little atom!

Do they wear dancing costumes?

Reuters reports that NIST has developed what may someday become a building block for quantum computing.

Suspended in laser light, thousands of atoms pair up and dance, each moving in perfect counterpoint to its partner. Porto’s team isolated pairs of atoms in a lattice of light formed by six laser beams all fixed on one point, suspending the atoms in a uniform pattern. "There is no container. It is levitated by the laser beams."

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The NIST experiment was performed with about 60,000 rubidium atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a special state of matter in which all atoms are in the same quantum state. They were trapped within a three-dimensional grid of light formed by three pairs of infrared laser beams. The lasers were arranged to create two horizontal lattices overlapping like two mesh screens, one twice as fine as the other in one dimension. This created many pairs of energy “wells” for trapping atoms.

Be sure to look at the NIST page for a video of what they call a "Quantum square dance."  Called by laser, no less.

Author: Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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