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The quantum world only partially melts
Date:9/6/2012

s decays. "The astonishing thing about this is that the order does not directly reach a minimum. First, it decays rapidly, but then it remains in an intermediate state the so-called pre-thermalized state", says Michael Gring (Vienna University of Technology).

Jrg Schmiedmayer's research group has been working on these experiments for several years. "At first, it was not clear how to interpret this phenomenon. The experiments had to be improved and the corresponding theory needed further development", says Schmiedmayer. In close cooperation with Professor Eugene Demler's theory group at Harvard University the surprising results could now be explained. "The observed disorder in the intermediate state does not depend on the temperature of the initial state. It is introduced into the system by the laws of quantum physics when the atom cloud is split into two", Schmiedmayer says.

Quantum Physics Far From Equilibrium

The transition of systems to thermal equilibrium is important in many fields of quantum physics after all, a quantum experiment can never be done at exactly zero temperature. Therefore, scientists always have to deal with temperature effects.

Carrying out calculations or storing data in a quantum computer inevitably creates non-equilibrium states, which (much like an ice cube in hot water) tends towards a thermal equilibrium, destroying the quantum state.

Learning from Ultracold Atom Clouds to Understand the Early Universe?

The novel intermediate state could also be interesting for the physics of quark-gluon plasma. Fractions of a second after the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe was in a non-equilibrium state of quark-gluon plasma. Today, quark-gluon plasma is created in large particle colliders. These plasma experiments showed that certain aspects of the plasma tend towards a thermal equilibrium much faster than one would have assumed. To explain this, "Pre-Thermalization" was po
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Contact: Florian Aigner
florian.aigner@tuwien.ac.at
0043-158-801-41027
Vienna University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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