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Technology and Health News > Tuesday, April-29-2008

Synchronized electrons

Particles in a confined microscopic space, move in a coordinated manner and can be manipulated and observed with a precision never achieved.

A nano-trap can be imagined as a tube the size of a billionth of a meter in which electrons are closed to study their behavior. Thus, scientists from the centers of the Italian Institute for physics of matter of Cnr "S3", Modena and "Nest" of Pisa in collaboration with Columbia University in New York, were able to observe with great precision the behavior of a quartet of electrons confined in one of these structures. Result: the particles move in a coordinated manner and with precise frequencies and can be manipulated. The study was published in Nature Phisics.

As it is known, the physics of the matter the size of an atom or less follows different laws than those of classical physics. According to these principles, which fall in quantum physics, the behavior of particles such as electrons can not be described as we are used to (for larger bjects),but it is outlined mainly in terms of probabilistic forecasts.

The technique developed by Cnr made it possible to determine the frequency of vibrations of particles through the use of a beam of laser light. The electrons in a nano-trap can only move in a coordinated manner and in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, vibrate at frequencies well defined that, thanks to this method, was possible to measure with unprecedented precision.

According to the authors of the study, the potential applications of these systems for quantum calculations are many, since the greater accuracy increases the amount of information that can be developed. Being able to handle accurately and control the behaviour of particles is a big step not only for theoretical research, but is a valuable tool for more research to design quantum computers, the hypothetical computers of the future, where information processing will be based on physics rather than on bits.

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