In the new experiment, unusual ‘domain walls’ act as independent quantum objects.
Scientists could now create a pretty weird quantum object known as a domain wall with high reliability. The finding could pave the way for new quantum tech as well as a greater sense of quantum elements overall.
Domain walls are formed when categories of atoms divide up into distinct clumps, or “domains,” at very low temperatures. Among those domains is a “wall” that acts so differentially from the atoms that scientists regard it as a separate quantum object.
Scientists have seen domain walls before, but this is the first time a team has developed a dependable method for creating and studying them. The researchers created a simulation of a Bose-Einstein condensate, which is a state of matter in which the component particles are kept cool to the point where they compress into a single quantum object. By adjusting certain circumstances, the team was able to separate atoms in the water vapor into elevated and low domains separated by a domain wall. That wall behaved as if it were a separate object. Trying to push the atoms in a single direction, for example, caused the wall to change direction.
“It’s somewhat like a dune in the wilds — it’s made of sand, however the dune behaves differently than separate grains of sand,” said Kai-Xuan Yao, the first writer and doctoral student, in a statement.
Domain walls are thus classified as “emergent phenomena,” or phenomena in which the components in an object behave very differently around each other than they do alone. Investigating emerging new occurrences can shine a spotlight on other events involving many atoms acting in unison, such as when particles first clustered together just to form stars and galaxies in the early universe.
The ability to produce such quantum objects could also facilitate the creation of new technology.
“It can be used to develop a more robust method of storing quantum entanglement or to allow new features in materials,” co-author Cheng Chin said in a statement.
During our lifetime, quantum techniques have the ability to produce advancements in computing, sensing, and communications. However, in addition to the incredible opportunities they provide for improving mission achievement, particle physics techniques can introduce extraordinary threats.