Quantum atoms – Dance to chaos

From the cosmosmagazine.com article:
Chaotic behaviour has been observed for the first time in a quantum system of ‘frozen’ atoms. The controversial finding is an important step in applying classical physical laws to weird quantum systems and could have spin-off benefits in technologies such as electronics and optical fibres.

The research, led by Brian Saam from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, U.S., is published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

His team examined the properties of atoms in four tubes of xenon exposed to first to a magnetic field, then to a laser beam and radio-wave pulses. This had the result of locking the samples into a crystal lattice that constrained the ‘spin’ of the atoms.

Nuclear spin is a measurement of the direction of spin of the atomic nucleus and its electrons. Spin state may be either ‘up’ or ‘down’.

“Chaos (classical physics) and quantum mechanics lie at extreme ends of the spectrum of physical theories. Quantum mechanics deals with probabilities and statistics, while chaos is a product of classical, deterministic mathematics,” he said. “Quantum chaos straddles the boundary between these two difficult fields, and hence by its nature is controversial.”

Read the article here.

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