Scientists Create Strange Quantum Walls That May Bring New Quantum Technologies
Recently, scientists at the University of Chicago have created a new quantum object in the laboratory – a quantum “domain wall”. The discovery could help researchers better understand exotic quantum particles and provide avenues for future new technologies, such as quantum electronics or quantum memory .
During the research, the team led by Prof. Cheng Chin noticed that an interesting phenomenon occurred in the atoms at extremely low temperatures. That is, under the right conditions, groups of atoms can separate into domains and form “walls” at the junctions where they meet. This “domain wall” behaves like an independent quantum object .
It’s a bit like a sand dune in a desert — a dune is made of sand, but a dune acts like an object because it behaves differently than a single grain of sand, says Yao Kaixuan, the paper’s first author.
Scientists have seen these “domain walls” in quantum materials before. However, they could not analyze it reliably. In the new study, physicists at the University of Chicago observed surprising behavior by making and carefully studying “domain walls.”
Professor Cheng Chin said: “As we all know, if you push atoms to the right, they move to the right. But here, if you push the ‘domain wall’ to the right, it moves to the left.”
These “domain walls” are known as a class of “emergent” phenomena. This means that since many particles act together as a collective, they appear to obey new laws of physics.
Chin’s lab studies these emerging phenomena, arguing that they could reveal a set of laws called dynamic gauge theory . The law describes materials and emergent phenomena in the early universe, the same phenomena that brought the first particles together to form galaxies, stars and planets.
Breakthroughs in this area could also enable new quantum technologies. Scientists classify these behaviors in part because they could form the basis of future technologies. For example, the foundation of modern GPS stems from scientists in the 1950s trying to test Einstein’s theory of relativity.
The research paper, titled “Domain-wall dynamics in Bose–Einstein condensates with synthetic gauge fields,” has been published in the journal Nature.