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Physicists Tie a Quantum Knot


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Believe it or not, but knots are a fairly interesting topic in different scientific fields. They are not just some means of connecting lengths of rope or string, but also mathematical systems in topology, which can then be related to various other systems. Now researchers at Aalto University of Amherst College have succeeded in knotting a quantum mechanical system, which could have implications in cosmology, nuclear fusion, and quantum computers.

For a long time it has been believed that it should be possible to tie knots in quantum fields, but this is the first time it has been achieved. To do it, the researchers started with a superfluid of rubidium atoms. Superfluids, also known as Bose-Einstein condensates are fluids that share a single quantum function across all of the atoms, which results in some interesting properties. By exposing this superfluid to a magnetic field and then changing it to leave a null point in the center, so no magnetic field was present there, the knots were tied in less than a millisecond. Each ring in the knot has its own field direction and are linked with each other in a way that makes it topologically stable. What that means is it is impossible to untie the knot without cutting it.

After first tying the knot, the researchers have gotten quite good at tying it again, and have done so several hundred times. From this they hope to develop more complex knots and eventually create a knot stable enough for more in depth study. As we delve deeper into quantum mechanics for quantum computers and nuclear fusion, this research will likely become quite important.



Source: Aalto University

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