Jan 4, 2019

Next up: Ultracold simulators of super-dense stars

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics, space

Rice University physicists have created the world’s first laser-cooled neutral plasma, completing a 20-year quest that sets the stage for simulators that re-create exotic states of matter found inside Jupiter and white dwarf stars.

The findings are detailed this week in the journal Science and involve new techniques for cooling clouds of rapidly expanding to temperatures about 50 times colder than deep space.

“We don’t know the practical payoff yet, but every time physicists have laser cooled a new kind of thing, it has opened a whole world of possibilities,” said lead scientist Tom Killian, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice. “Nobody predicted that laser cooling atoms and ions would lead to the world’s most accurate clocks or breakthroughs in quantum computing. We do this because it’s a frontier.”

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