When cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, atoms unveil their wave-like nature and quantum mechanical laws replace those of classical mechanics. By using finely controlled lasers and magnetic fields, scientists of the Cold Atoms group are able to cool small ensembles of atoms down to the lowest temperatures in the universe – just a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero – and thus to access the realm of fully quantum mechanical motion.
All the essential parameters of the atomic samples, including the motion, the shape, and the forces between the atoms can be efficiently controlled, making these ideal systems for discovering new quantum behaviour and new states of matter. The Cold Atoms Group exploits these exceptional systems to study a number of quantum phenomena including superfluidity, cavity quantum electrodynamics, quantum thermodynamics, and the creation of light with exotic properties not found in nature.
The Cold Atoms Research Group was set up during 2008 and is part of the Midlands Ultra Cold Atoms Research Centre (MUARC) together with the University of Nottingham. For more information please visit http://mpa.ac.uk/muarc/
Scientists of the Cold Atoms group in Birmingham are leading the national Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology that has the aim of exploiting the exceptional properties of quantum matter to realise real-world applications like ultra-precise atomic clocks and interferometers and ‘gravitational cameras’ which can unveil the underworld – from modern urban infrastructure to the buried secrets of Stonehenge