Washington: Scientists have for the very first time captured the sound of an atom.
The researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have shown the use of sound in communicating with an artificial atom. They demonstrated the phenomena from quantum physics with sound taking on the role of light. The scientists succeeded in making acoustic waves couple to an artificial atom.
Per Delsing, head of the experimental research group said that they have opened new door into the quantum world by talking and listening to atoms. Their long term goal was to harness quantum physics so that they could benefit from its laws.
An artificial atom is an example of such a quantum electrical circuit. Just like a regular atom, it can be charged up with energy which it subsequently emits in the form of a particle. This was usually a particle of light, but the atom in the Chalmers experiment was instead designed to both emit and absorb energy in the form of sound.
Article's first author Martin Gustafsson said that according to the theory, the sound from the atom was divided into quantum particles. Such a particle was the weakest sound that can be detected.
Since sound moves much slower than light, the acoustic atom opened entire new possibilities for taking control over quantum phenomena.
The low speed of sound also implied that it had a short wavelength compared to light. An atom that interacted with light waves was always much smaller than the wavelength. However, compared to the wavelength of sound, the atom could be much larger, which meant that its properties could be better controlled.
The frequency used in the experiment was 4.8 gigahertz, close to the microwave frequencies common in modern wireless networks. In musical terms, this corresponded approximately to a D28, about 20 octaves above the highest note on a grand piano.
The study is due to be published in the journal Science.