A University of Southampton academic has received a major research grant to help him explore the limitations of quantum theory.
Dr Hendrik Ulbricht, a Reader in Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded nearly 500,000 by the John Templeton Foundation in the US.
Sir John Templeton, the late American millionaire, investor and philanthropist, created the Foundation to encourage scientists and students across the globe to explore fundamental, big questions in astronomy and cosmology that engage groundbreaking ideas on the nature of the Universe and the foundations of physics.
Dr Ulbricht and his team will be using the grant to fund experiments to investigate whether there is a limit to quantum mechanics and also to fund two new PhD students for three years.
"Quantum theory is the most fundamental and most precise description of our understanding of all the processes happening in the Universe, with the exception of gravity. Quantum theory is based on a clear mathematical apparatus and has enormous significance for the natural sciences. It also has phenomenal predictive success and plays a critical role for almost all modern technology. Therefore, to discover universal limits of this theory would have a significant impact," said Dr Ulbricht.
Previously Dr Ulbricht and his team have been exploring the theoretical possibility of conducting experiments to discover whether there is a limit to quantum theory or not. This grant will allow them to set up and conduct that experiment using matter wave interferometry of nanoparticles between 10 nanometres and 100 nanometres in diameter. They will be able to work faster, to concentrate on the physics, and to compete with strong groups around the world.
They will generate a very fragile state of matter called a quantum superposition state that describes the possibility for a single particle to be in two or more states at a time. The experiment will be based on Physicist Erwin S
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University of Southampton