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Physics Frontier Center News

In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat seems to be both dead and alive—an idea that strains credulity. These days, cats still don't act this way, but physicists now regularly create analogues of Schrödinger's cat in the lab by smearing the microscopic quantum world over longer and longer distances.


Such "cat states" have found many homes, promising more sensitive quantum measurements and acting as the basis for quantum error-correcting codes—a necessary component for...

The 2015 discovery of a Weyl semimetal—and the Weyl fermions it harbored—provoked a flurry of activity from researchers around the globe. A quick glance at a recent physics journal or the online arXiv preprint server testifies to the topic’s popularity. The arXiv alone has had more than 200 papers on Weyl semimetals posted in 2016.Researchers at JQI and the Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC...

Karina Jiménez-García, a former visiting graduate student who worked with JQI Fellow Ian Spielman, was one of 30 young women scientists to receive a 2016 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowship. She was selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants and received the award for her ongoing research on the quantum behavior of...

For decades, particle accelerators have grabbed headlines while smashing matter together at faster and faster speeds. But in recent years, alongside the progress in high-energy experiments, another realm of physics has been taking its own exciting strides forward.That realm, which researchers call condensed matter physics, studies chunks of matter moving decidedly slower than the protons in...

Quantum computers promise speedy solutions to some difficult problems, but building large-scale, general-purpose quantum devices is a problem fraught with technical challenges.To date, many research groups have created small but functional quantum computers. By combining a handful of atoms, electrons or superconducting junctions, researchers now regularly demonstrate quantum effects and run...

A government report, authored by experts from a variety of federal agencies, has recommended that the US treat quantum information science as a national priority.

Theoretical physicists studying the behavior of ultra-cold atoms have discovered a new source of friction, dispensing with a century-old paradox in the process. Their prediction, which experimenters may soon try to verify, was reported recently in Physical Review Letters.The friction afflicts certain arrangements of atoms in a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), a quantum state of matter in which...

Nature doesn’t have the best memory. If you fill a box with air and divide it in half with a barrier, it’s easy to tell molecules on the left from molecules on the right. But after removing the barrier and waiting a short while, the molecules get mixed together, and it becomes impossible to tell where a given molecule started. The air-in-a-box system loses any memory of its initial conditions....

The idea of a pump is at least as old as the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Archimedes. More than 2000 years ago, Archimedes allegedly invented a corkscrew pump that could lift water up an incline with the turn of a handle. Versions of the ancient invention still bear his name and are used today in agriculture and...

The swirling field of a magnet—rendered visible by a sprinkling of iron filings—emerges from the microscopic behavior of atoms and their electrons. In permanent magnets, neighboring atoms align and lock into place to create inseparable north and south poles. For other materials, magnetism can be induced by a field strong enough to coax atoms into alignment.In both cases, atoms are typically...

The behavior of a few rubidium atoms in a cloud of 40,000 hardly seems important. But a handful of the tiny particles with the wrong energy may cause a cascade of effects that could impact future quantum computers. Some proposals for quantum devices use Rydberg atoms—atoms with highly excited electrons that roam far from the nucleus—because they interact strongly with each other and offer easy...

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