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Creating the Quietest Gas to Study Quantum Effects


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Anyone performing an experiment likes it when there are the fewest number of variables involved, but actually achieving this can be very difficult. In the quantum realm where even small phenomena can collapse the system, removing noise and the like is even more important. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have successfully created the world's quietest gas by removing the noise of entropy.

For studying various quantum phenomena, researchers will turn to Bose-Einstein condensates, which are clouds of atoms that have been cooled to the point that all the atoms act as one. Such a system is valuable for studying superfluids, superconductors, and quantum magnets. What the Berkeley researchers created is not the coolest condensate on record (at a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, it is actually twice that temperature) but its entropy is a hundredth that of previous experiments. Entropy is a measure of the noise in a system, and so by reducing it, even the most subtle of quantum effects can be detected. It and the temperature were actually so low a new thermometer had to be invented just to measure them.

With this new, quiet gas it should be possible for the researchers to develop a better picture of how high-temperature superconductivity works. With enough study it may be possible to bring superconductors up to room temperature and then revolutionize everything electrical.

Source: University of California, Berkeley

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