Determining the passage of time in a world of ticking clocks and swinging pendulums is a simple case of calculating the seconds between ‘then’ and ‘now’.
However, in the quantum range of noisy electrons, the word “permission” cannot always be expected. Even worse, the word “now” often turns into a haze of uncertainty. The stopwatch does not work in some scenarios.
A potential solution could be found in the form of quantum fog itself, according to researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden.
Their experiments with the wave nature of the so-called Rydberg state revealed a new method for measuring time that does not require a precise starting point.
Rydberg atoms are inflated balloons from the particle kingdom. These atoms, blasted with a laser instead of air, contain electrons in extremely high energy states, orbiting far from the nucleus.
Of course, not all laser pumps need to pump an atom to cartoonish proportions. In fact, lasers are commonly used to tickle electrons at higher power states for a variety of uses.
In some applications, a second laser can be used to monitor changes in the electron’s position, including the passage of time. These ‘pump probe’ can be used to measure the speed of some high-speed electronic devices, for example.
Induction of atoms into Rydberg states is a useful advice for engineers, especially when it comes to designing new components for quantum computers. Needless to say, physicists have gathered a great deal of information about how electrons move when pushed into the Rydberg state.
Being quantum animals, their movements don’t look like pearls slithering over the small counter, and more like an evening at the roulette table, where every roll and jump of the ball is squeezed into a single game of chance.
The mathematical rule book behind this wild game of Rydberg electronic roulette is called Rydberg Wave Pack.
Like real waves in a pond, the presence of more than one Rydberg wave packet that ripples through space creates interference, resulting in unique patterns of ripples. Fire enough Rydberg wavepacks in the same atomic basin, and these unique patterns will each represent the distinct time required for the wave packets to evolve relative to each other.
It is the same time “fingerprints” that the physicists behind this latest set of experiments set out to test, showing that it is consistent and reliable enough to serve as a form of quantum timestamp.
Their research involved measuring the results of laser-excited helium atoms and matching their results with theoretical predictions to show how their remarkable results could persist for a while.
Physicist Marta Berholtz of Uppsala University in Sweden, who led the team, explained: “If you use a counter, you have to set it to zero. You start counting at some point.” new world.
“The advantage of this is that you don’t have to start the clock – you just have to look at the interference structure and say ‘OK, that’s 4 nanoseconds. “”
The sophisticated Rydberg wavepacket can be used in conjunction with other forms of pump-probe spectroscopy that measure minute scale events, when it is sometimes less straightforward or too impractical to measure.
Most importantly, none of the fingerprints require a past and a present to serve as a start and end point in time. It would be like benchmarking an unknown runner’s race against a number of competitors running at set speeds.
By looking for the signature of overlapping Rydberg states in the middle of a sample of the pump probe’s atoms, technicians were able to observe a time stamp of events as large as 1.7 trillion seconds.
Future quantum clock experiments could replace helium with other atoms, or even use laser pulses of different energies, to extend the evidence of timestamps to accommodate a wider range of conditions.
This research was published in physical examination search.