Physicists coming from EPFL have finally found a way to be able to get photons to interact with pairs of atoms for the very first time. This particular breakthrough is very important for the field of cavity quantum electrodynamics or QED, a new cutting-edge field leading the way towards quantum technologies.
Cavity Quantum Electrodynamics
According to Phys.org, there is still no doubt that they are moving steadily toward an era of technologies that is reportedly based on quantum physics. In order to get there, however, there is still the need to master the ability to make light be able to interact with matter or in more technical terms, photons with atoms.
This has already been achieved to a certain degree giving the scientists the cutting-edge field of cavity quantum electrodynamics or QED, which is already used in quantum networks as well as quantum information processing. Nonetheless, there is still quite a long way to go. A 2014 fiber-optic experiment had two photons interact for the very first time ever.
Jean-Philippe Brantut Group Researchers
Current light-matter interactions are supposedly limited to individual atoms, which limits the ability to study them in a particular sort of complex system that is involved in quantum-based technologies. A paper published in Nature noted that researchers from the Jean-Philippe Brantut group at the EPFL's School of Basic Sciences have reportedly found a way in order to get photons to be able to mix with pairs of atoms at certain ultra-low temperatures.
Researchers reportedly used what is most widely known as a Fermi gas, a particular state of matter made of atoms that resembles that of materials' electrons. Brantut explains that in the absence of photons, the gas can reportedly be prepared in a state where atoms interact quite strongly with each other. This would form loosely bound pairs.
Pair-Polaritons on Protons
It was noted that as light is sent onto the gas, some of the pairs can reportedly be turned into chemically bound molecules through absorbing with photons. A particular key concept in this new effect is that it actually happens "coherently." This means that photons can be absorbed in order to turn a pair of atoms directly into a molecule, then emitted back, then finally reabsorbed a number of times.
This would imply that the pair-photon system forms a brand new type of "particle" which is technically an excitation and is called "pair-polariton," according to Brantut. It was noted that this is made possible in their system, where photons are confined in a certain "optical cavity" which is a closed box that forces them to interact strongly with atoms. Scientists have been counting how many protons were produced since the Big Bang.
The particular hybrid pair-polaritons take on a number of properties of photons. This means that they can be measured with certain optical methods. They also reportedly take on some of the properties of the Fermi gas, just like the number of atom pairs that it had originally before the additional photons.
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Written by Urian B.