3D Prints Assist Quacum Experiments in Ultracold Small

To find some in the coolest things in the universe, you don’t have to go farther than your local university. There, a physicist can use laser light and magnets to cool the atoms below a staggering –450 Fahrenheit. They can use these ultracold atoms to sense even the weakest magnetic waves inside, or to make a clock accurate to the inside of a quadrillion seconds. But they may not be able to carry these sensors or clocks outside their lab, because they are large and fragile.

Now, a team of physicists at the University of Nottingham has shown that the 3D printing features for these ultracold value experiments allow them to reduce their device by only a third of its usual size. . Their work, published in the journal Physical Analysis X Quantum in August, the door will open in a quick and easily accessible way to make smaller, more robust, customized setups for experiments.

Because they follow the rules of quantum mechanics, the cooler atoms exhibit new and useful behavior. “Ultracold atoms are a key technology that goes into many different instruments exactly,” said John Kitching, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who was not involved in the study.

“Ultracold atoms are very good time sensors. They are good sensors of so-called inertial forces, so acceleration and rotation. They are very good sensors of magnetic fields. And they are very good sensors of vacuum. , ”Added his colleague Stephen Eckel, who was also not at work.

As a result, physicists have long sought to use ultracold atom devices in settings from exploring space, where they can help with navigation by recognizing changes in the acceleration of a vehicle, in hydrology, where they can identify groundwater by recognizing its gravitational pull at high ground . However, the process of getting cold atoms to perform any of these tasks is always complicated and difficult. “In a long time used as a cold-atoms experiment, I was always disappointed that we spent all our time fixing technical problems,” said Nathan Cooper, a physicist at the University of Nottingham and one of the study partners.

The key to cooling and controlling the atoms is to run them with well -placed laser light. Hot atoms travel at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour, meanwhile extremely cold atoms stand almost. Physicists make sure that every time a laser beam hits a hot atom, the light will pierce it in such a way that the atom loses energy, slows down, and cools. Typically, they work on a 5- by 8-foot table covered with a maze of mirrors and lenses-optical components-that guide and manipulate light as it travels toward millions of atoms, always rubidium or sodium, stored in a special ultrahigh-vacuum chamber. To control where all the ultracold atoms are in this space, physicists use magnets; their farm will act like fences.

Compared to miles of long particles or large telescopes, these experimental setups are minimal. However, they are too large and too weak to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to be able to available for use outside of academic labs. Physicists often spend months figuring out every little element in their optical mazes. Even the slightest shaking of mirrors and lenses-something that could possibly happen in the field-meant a significant delay in work. “What we want to try and do is build something that’s as easy as possible and that is, hopefully, reliable to work with,” Cooper said. That’s why he and colleagues helped with 3D printing.

The Nottingham team’s experiment didn’t take up an entire table – it had a volume of 0.15 cubic meters, making it a bit larger than a stack of 10 large pizza boxes. “It’s very small. We have reduced the size by almost 70 per cent, compared to the usual setup, ”said Somaya Madkhaly, a Nottingham graduate student and the study’s first author. To build it, he and his colleagues created something like a custom Lego game. Instead of buying parts, they assemble their setup from blocks they print in 3D to shape the way they want.

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