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Stanford Researchers Investigate Behavior in Quantum Systems With a Toy-Inspired Technique

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Benjamin Lev and his research team at Stanford University were inspired by Newtons cradle in their investigation of quantum systems.

A Stanford University research team built a quantum version of Newtons cradle in order to answer questions about how the chaotic motion of quantum particles eventually leads to thermal equilibrium.

Credit: L.A. Cicero

Stanford University scientists have created a quantum version of Newton's cradle to study the emergence of quantum chaos and thermal equilibrium.

By learning how the chaotic motion of quantum particles eventually leads to thermal equilibrium, the team hopes to advance the development of quantum computers, sensors, and devices.

To use the quantum Newton's cradle, the researchers shine laser beams through an airtight chamber to cool a gas of atoms down to nearly absolute zero, then they load those atoms into an array of laser tubes.

Each of the 700 parallel cradles holds about 50 atoms in a row. To make the cradle move, a laser kicks the atoms, which are strongly magnetic.

The researchers proved the cradles' oscillation reached equilibrium in a sequence of two exponential steps.

From Stanford News Service
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