Researchers direct a single ion through a Bose – Einstein condenser

The positively charged ion pathway (yellow) through BEC (green) can still only be artistically imaged. The ion microscope currently being developed at the Fifth Institute for Physics at the University of Stuttgart will make this pathway directly visible at a resolution of less than 200 nm. Credit: University of Stuttgart / PI5, Selena Brandes

The transfers are ubiquitous in nature, but they still raise many questions. The research team on Florian Maynert of the Fifth Institute of Physics at the University of Stuttgart has developed a new method for observing a single charged particle as it moves through a dense cloud of extremely cold atoms. The results have been published in Physical review letters It is also reported in an Opinion column in the journal Physics.

The Meinert team used the Bose-Einstein condenser (BEC) for their experiments. This strange state of matter consists of a dense cloud of extreme cold . Using complex laser excitation, the researchers created a single Rydberg atom inside the gas. In this giant atom, the electron is a thousand times farther away from the nucleus than it is in the ground state, and therefore is very weakly bound to the nucleus. Using a sequence specifically designed for electric field pulses, the researchers snatched an electron from the atom. The previously neutral atom turned into a positively charged ion that remained almost static despite the electron separation process.

In the next step, the researchers used fine electric fields to pull ions in a controlled manner through a dense cloud of atoms in the BEC. The ion picked up its velocity in the electric field, collided on its path with other atoms, and the electric field slowed and accelerated again. The interaction between the acceleration and deceleration induced by the collisions resulted in a steady motion of the ion across the BEC.

“This new approach allows us to measure the mobility of a single ion in a Bose-Einstein capacitor for the first time,” says Thomas Dieterle, Ph.D. The student who participated in the experiment. The researchers’ next goal is to observe collisions between a single ion and atoms at lower temperatures, as the processes dictate quantum mechanics rather than classical mechanics. “In the future, our newly created modular system – the transport of a single ion – will allow for a better understanding of the more complex transport processes involved in multi-body systems, for example, in some solids or in superconductors. These measurements are also an important step on the road,” says Maynert. Investigating foreign quasiparticles, the so-called polarons, which can be created through the interaction between atoms and ions.

The institute’s adjacent lab is already working on an ion microscope, allowing researchers to directly observe collisions between atoms and ions. While electron microscopy uses negatively charged particles to create an image, this is what happens in ion microscopy with positively charged ions. Electrostatic lenses deflect ions similar to rays of light in a classical optical microscope.

Researchers have reported the formation of Rydberg polarons in Bose gas

more information:

Dieterl T et al. Transfer of a single cold ion immersed in a Bose – Einstein condenser, Physical review letters (2021). DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.126.033401

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