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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers miniaturized the optical components necessary for atom cooling, achieving a step toward employing the technology on microchips. The research holds implications for atomic clocks, navigation without GPS, and the simulation of quantum systems.
To cool atoms is to slow them down, which enables them to be studied more closely. At room temperature, atoms travel close to the speed of sound, which makes the study of atomic interactions and transitions between atomic energy levels difficult. When cooled to nearly absolute zero, the speed can drop down to about 0.1 m/s, enabling energy transitions and other quantum properties to be measured accurately enough for use as…READ MORE