Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Cold atoms make microwave fields visible: "Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, the LMU Munich and the University of Basel have now demonstrated a new technique for the imaging of microwave magnetic fields. As microwave field sensors, they use small clouds of ultracold atoms that hade been laser-cooled to a temperature of a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. At these temperatures, the atoms obey the laws of quantum physics. Their quantum state is very sensitive to externally applied electromagnetic fields, which makes them ideal sensors. For the measurement, the atoms are positioned at the desired location above the microwave circuit with the help of static magnetic fields, and subsequently the microwave field is turned on. "