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Physicists discover important step for making light crystals
Date:4/9/2009

naturally pair up with one that is spinning in the opposite direction, so that the two spins cancel each other out. This two-fermion state would have no entropy, or heat.

But according to the laws of thermodynamics, the heat has to go somewhere. Ho calculates that it would be pressed outward to the surface of the lattice, where a Bose-Einstein Condensate could absorb it.

After the BEC evaporated away, the researchers could turn down the intensity of the laser, so that the lattice could expand and the atoms could return to their original locations, with one per cell. Only this time, the whole lattice would be much colder than before.

"Effectively, this is a two-part solution -- divide and conquer," Ho said. "The 'divide' part is to push the entropy out of the interior of the system. The 'conquer' part is to get rid of the entropy by evaporating away the BEC. Next, we'd like to reduce it to a one-step process, and eliminate the need for the BEC entirely." Recently, Ho and Zhou have come up with another method which they believe may be even simpler.

Physicists hope that the light crystal will be able to simulate new materials, and perhaps even reveal the key to high-temperature superconductivity. Ho is optimistic that such applications will be achievable in the next decade.


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Contact: Tin-Lun Ho
Ho.6@osu.edu
614-292-2046
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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