Precise measurements find a crack in universal physics | 3/20/2015 | Staff
marikamarika (Posted by) Level 3
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A photo of the experimental setup used for performing precise studies of universal physics in an ultracold atomic sample. A myriad of elements (including lasers, optical components, magnetic field coils, and RF antennas) are used for capturing atoms from a hot (around 400 Kelvin) potassium vapor source (the chamber shown in top right), cooling the gas sample to ultracold temperatures (around 10^-8 Kelvin) in the ultrahigh vacuum chamber (top left), manipulating the quantum states, performing precision spectroscopy, and imaging of ultracold clouds. Figure credit: Roman Chapurin.

The concept of universal physics is intriguing, as it enables researchers to relate physical phenomena in a variety of systems, irrespective of their varying characteristics and complexities. Ultracold atomic systems are often perceived as ideal platforms for exploring universal physics, owing to the precise control of experimental parameters (such as the interaction strength, temperature, density, quantum states, dimensionality, and the trapping potential) that might be harder to tune in more conventional systems. In fact, ultracold atomic systems have been used to better understand a myriad of complex physical behavior, including those topics in cosmology, particle, nuclear, molecular physics, and most notably, in condensed matter physics, where the complexities of many-body quantum phenomena are more difficult to investigate using more traditional approaches.

Applicability - Robustness - Physics - Interest - Researchers

Understanding the applicability and the robustness of universal physics is thus of great interest. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder have carried out a study, recently featured in Physical Review Letters, aimed at testing the limits to universality in an ultracold system.

"Unlike in other physical systems, the beauty of ultracold systems is that at times we are able to scrap the importance of the periodic table and demonstrate the similar phenomenon with any chosen atomic species (be it potassium, rubidium, lithium, strontium, etc.)," Roman Chapurin,...
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