For the first time, scientists have successfully captured the sound of an atom. Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden used sound to ‘talk’ to an artificial atom. It’s an interesting phenomenon of quantum physics where sound waves took on the role of light. Atoms interact very well with light and their interactions have been widely studied in quantum optics.
This artificial atom absorbs and emits light in the form of sound
It was a big challenge to achieve the same level of interaction between atoms and sound waves. However, Swedish scientists, led by Per Delsing, have succeeded in coupling acoustic waves to an artificial atom. Delsing said his team had opened a new door in quantum physics. Researchers want to harness quantum physics for technological advancements such as building ultra-fast computers. It’s possible by making electrical circuits that obey quantum laws.
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An artificial atom is a quantum electrical circuit. Like regulator atoms, you can charge up an artificial atom with energy, which it subsequently emits as a particle. It’s a particle of light. But Swedish scientists were able to design an atom that could both absorb and emit energy in the form of sound. Martin Gustafsson, co-author of the study, said the sound from the artificial atom is divided into quantum particles. However, it’s the weakest sound that can be detected.
The acoustic atom to open new possibilities
We know that the sound travels slower than light. So, scientists believe the acoustic atom could open new possibilities for “taking control over quantum phenomena.” The low speed of sound makes it possible for scientists to control the quantum particles when they are moving. Doing it with light is pretty difficult because light travels about 100,000 times faster.
Due to its low speed, sound also has a short wavelength than light. An atom interacting with light waves is almost always much smaller than the wavelength. But the atom can be larger than the wavelength of sound. As a result, its properties can be better controlled.
Results of the study were published in the journal Science.