Scientists have split an atom into two halves, took them apart and then placed them together again.
This research has been done by scientists from The University of Bonn and published online in the June 4 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]Scientists have used the power of quantum mechanics to split the atom into two parts. Through this experiment, the scientists were able to keep the single atom in two places – which is the normal phenomenon in quantum mechanics – at a distance of more than a hundredth of a millimeter apart, which is a large distance for an atom.
This quantum phenomenon could only took place at very low temperatures, so that a cesium atom has been cooled to a temperature of a tenth of a million above absolute zero by using lasers and held by using another laser.
Atoms have the ability to rotate in two directions and based on the direction they can be moved either to the left or to the right by the laser. However, the atom’s spin can be in both directions, so it can be moved to the right or to the left at the same time, causing its split.
“The atom has kind of a split personality, half of it is to the right, and half to the left, and yet, it is still whole,” says the university’s Andreas Steffen.
By utilizing this technique, scientists are thinking on to simulate the complex quantum system.
“For us, an atom is a well-controlled and oiled cog,” says team leader Dr Andrea Alberti. “You can build a calculator with remarkable performance using these cogs, but in order for it to work, they have to engage.”
The two halves were then put back again. They had the ability to make contacts with adjacent atoms to their left and right and then share that contact allowing a small network of atoms to be formed that can be used to simulate and control real systems.
Andreas Steffen, Andrea Alberti, Wolfgang Alt, Noomen Belmechri, Sebastian Hild, Michał Karski, Artur Widera, and Dieter Meschede, (2012). Digital atom interferometer with single particle control on a discretized space-time geometry. PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1204285109