The Fifth State of Matter Created by a Physicist While Working from Home

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Fifth State Of Matter: Using quantum technology, and work from home opportunity a physicist has created the fifth state of matter BEC.

At the University of Sussex facilities, Dr. Amruta Gadge from the Quantum Systems and Devices Laboratory successfully created a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) despite working remotely from her living room two miles away.

It is claimed to be the first time BEC was produced remotely in a laboratory that didn’t have one before.

Fifth State of Matter – Working from Home

the fifth state of matter created by a physicist while-working from home
Image Credit: Pexels

The research team claims that the achievement could provide a blueprint in inaccessible environments such as space for the application of quantum technology. “We believe this may be the first time that someone has established a BEC remotely in a lab that didn’t have one before. We are all extremely excited that we can continue to conduct our experiments remotely during the lockdown, and any possible future lockdowns”, said Peter Krüger, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Sussex.

“But there are also wider implications beyond our team. Enhancing the capabilities of remote lab control is relevant for research applications aimed at operating quantum technology in inaccessible environments such as space, underground, in a submarine, or in extreme climates.” he further added.

A Bose-Einstein Condensate or BEC consists of a cloud of hundreds of thousands of rubidium atoms cooled down to the temperature of nano Kelvins that are more than one billion times colder than freezing.

At this point, the atoms take on another property and behave as a single quantum body altogether. This quantum object has unique properties that can detect magnetic fields that are very weak.

“We use multiple carefully timed steps of laser and radio wave cooling to prepare rubidium gases at these ultralow temperatures. This requires accurate computer control of laser light, magnets, and electric currents in microchips based on vigilant monitoring of environmental conditions in the lab while nobody is able to be there to check in person.”, said professor Krüger.

The image confirming the successful creation of the BEC.

MIcroscopic image of the observed Fifth state of matter

Credit: University of Sussex

As part of a broader project designing a new form of magnetic microscopy and other quantum sensors, the Quantum Systems and Devices Group has been focusing on getting a second lab with a BEC running continuously for the past nine months.

The research team uses atomic gasses as magnetic sensors close to different objects, including novel advanced materials, cell ion channels, and the human mind.

Trapped cold quantum gases are managed to create extremely sensitive and precise sensors, suitable for the identification and analysis of new materials, geometries, and devices.

The research team is developing their sensors to be applied in many areas including batteries for electric vehicles, touch screens, solar cells, and advances in medical science such as brain imaging.

Just in time before lockdown, researchers set up a 2-D magnetic optical trap and only returned to perform essential maintenance a few times.

Dr. Gadge, Research Fellow in Quantum Physics And Innovations at Sussex University, was able to render the complex calculations and then refine and run the series from home by accessing the laboratory computers remotely.

She said: “The research team has been observing lockdown and working from home and so we have not been able to access our labs for weeks. But we were determined to keep our research going so we have been exploring new ways of running our experiments remotely. It has been a massive team effort.”

“The process has been a lot slower than if I had been in the lab as the experiment is unstable and I’ve had to give 10-15 minutes of cooling time between each run. This is obviously not as efficient and way more laborious to do manually because I’ve not been able to do systematic scans or fix the instability as I could working in the lab.”

“We’re hopeful of establishing a skeleton crew back in the labs with social distancing measures in place as soon as it is safe to do so and permitted but we will be able to have many of the team continuing to work from home on a rota basis thanks to the progress we have made with remote working.”

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