Quantum Tornados Formed By Spinning Ultra-Cold Atoms

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Reseachers observed sodium atoms breaking up into crystal particles that resemble tornado-like structures after entering a quantum state. Mukherjee et al, Nature, 2022

MIT Physicists Formed Quantum Tornados by Spinning Ultra-Cold Atoms

by Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com

MIT researchers have now observed peculiar and eerie quantum mechanics in a twirling, fluid column of ultra-cold sodium atoms, Science Alert’s Tessa Koumoundouros reports. As the particles shifted from being influenced by classical physics to quantum physics, the particles were observed spinning in a tornado-like structure.

The study, published this month in Nature, is the first direct documentation of the evolution of a rapidly-rotating quantum gas, Jennifer Chu explains in an MIT statement. MIT physicist Martin Zwierlein explains it is sort of similar to the way Earth’s rotation spins up weather patterns.“The Coriolis effect that explains Earth’s rotational effect is similar to the Lorentz force that explains how charged particles behave in a magnetic field,” Zwierlein says in a statement. “Even in classical physics, this gives rise to intriguing pattern formation, like clouds wrapping around the Earth in beautiful spiral motions. And now we can study this in the quantum world.”

On a quantum level, atoms behave differently because their interactions with each other hold more influence and power than the energy of their movements, per Science AlertRead More:

 

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