Team’s Quantum Object is Biggest by a Factor of Billions

Andrew Clelland and his team at the UC Santa Barbara have cooled a tiny metal paddle to the point at which it reached it’s ground state, i.e. the lowest energy level permitted by quantum theory. It was connected to an apparatus which allowed for one quanta of electical energy to be ‘pumped’ in and converted to vibrational energy. This meant that the paddle was simultaneously in a state of moving and not moving. The notion of such a superposition of states is considered to be fairly normal for incredibly small particles, but has never before been observed for an object greater than 60 atoms in size. This paddle is trillions of atoms large. From the BBC:

If all the energy that an atom gets from the jostling atoms in its environment is removed by cooling it to phenomenally low temperatures, it can reach its “quantum ground state” – no more energy can be removed.

If just one quantum of energy is then carefully put back in a certain way, the atom can be said to be in two states at the same time: a superposition of states.

Although only one quantum of energy is put in, any measurements will show either zero or one quanta; strictly, the atom has both.

Team’s Quantum Object is Biggest by a Factor of Billions [BBCNews]

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