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Research News

December 17, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Controlling the Thermodynamics of Light

The concept of temperature is critical in describing many physical phenomena, such as the transition from one phase of matter to another.  Turn the temperature knob and interesting things can happen.  But other knobs might be just as important for studying some phenomena.  One such knob is chemical potential, a thermodynamic parameter first introduced in the nineteenth century by scientists for keeping track of potential energy absorbed or emitted by a system during chemical reactions.

December 3, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Shaking Bosons into Fermions

Particles can be classified as bosons or fermions. A defining characteristic of a boson is its ability to pile into a single quantum state with other bosons. Fermions are not allowed to do this. One broad impact of fermionic anti-social behavior is that it allows for carbon-based life forms, like us, to exist. If the universe were solely made from bosons, life would certainly not look like it does. Recently, JQI theorists* have proposed an elegant method for achieving transmutation--that is, making bosons act like fermions.

November 25, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Quantum Insulation

Two physical phenomena, localization and ergodicity-breaking, are conjoined in new experimental and theoretical work.  Before we consider possible implications for fundamental physics and for prospective quantum computing, let’s first look at these two topics in turn.  It will bear providing some specific examples before getting to the quantum details.


November 11, 2015 | Research News

Frigid Ytterbium

For many years rubidium has been a workhorse in the investigation of ultracold atoms.  Now JQI scientists are using Rb to cool another species, ytterbium, an element prized for its possible use in advanced optical clocks and in studying basic quantum phenomena.   Yb shows itself useful in another way: it comes in numerous available isotopes, some of which are bosonic in nature and some fermionic.

November 4, 2015 | Research News

Photon-counting calibrations

From NIST-PML — Precise measurements of optical power enable activities from fiber-optic communications to laser manufacturing and biomedical imaging — anything requiring a reliable source of light. This situation calls for light-measuring (radiometric) standards that can operate over a wide range of power levels.

September 29, 2015 | PFC | Research News

At the edge of a quantum gas

From NIST-PML--JQI scientists have achieved a major milestone in simulating the dynamics of condensed-matter systems – such as the behavior of charged particles in semiconductors and other materials – through manipulation of carefully controlled quantum-mechanical models.

September 23, 2015 | Research News

Twisting Neutrons

 It’s easy to contemplate the wave nature of light in common experience.  White light passing through a prism spreads out into constituent colors; it diffracts from atmospheric moisture into a rainbow; light passing across a sharp edge or a diffraction grating creates an interference pattern.  It’s harder to fathom the wave behavior of things usually thought of as particles, such as electrons and atoms.  And yet these matter waves play a role in physics and in technology.  For example, electron beams, manifested as waves, provide an important form of microscopy.

September 17, 2015 | PFC | Research News

Beyond Majorana: Ultracold gases as a platform for observing exotic robust quantum states

The quantum Hall effect, discovered in the early 1980s, is a phenomenon that was observed in a two-dimensional gas of electrons existing at the interface between two semiconductor layers. Subject to the severe criteria of very high material purity and very low temperatures, the electrons, when under the influence of a large magnetic field, will organize themselves into an ensemble state featuring remarkable properties.

September 9, 2015 | PFC | Research News

JQI Physicists Show ‘Molecules’ Made of Light May Be Possible

From NIST TechBeat--It’s not lightsaber time, not yet. But a team including theoretical physicists from JQI and NIST has taken another step toward building objects out of photons, and the findings hint that weightless particles of light can be joined into a sort of “molecule” with its own peculiar force. Researchers show that two photons, depicted in this artist’s conception as waves (left and right), can be locked together at a short distance.

September 2, 2015 | Research News

Strange Metallic Behavior

The two-dimensional physical properties of semiconductor materials depend keenly on a number of factors, such as material purity, surface orientation, flatness, surface reconstruction, charge carrier polarity, and temperature.  JQI (*) scientists have optimized a number of these parameters to produce the first ever ultra-high mobility,  two-dimensional Si(111) transistor that allows charge carriers (electrons or holes) to flow through the same conduction channel by merely changing an external gate voltage.


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