Monday, 7 January 2013

Revealing Quantum Flow

Wigner flow’s stagnation points’ 
positions across phase space 
as a function of time.
Scientists have spent many hundreds of years making sense of how the world works – developing an understanding of everything from the laws of motion to thermodynamics.  And then, a branch of physics which explores the smallest types of matter led to some really astounding conclusions that defied logic – and quantum mechanics was “discovered”.

Quantum systems are used in our everyday life – but most of us are unaware of its importance in our lives and take its many applications for granted.  All around us are everyday items like microprocessors, quantum computers, instantaneous communication, ultra-precise thermometers, lasers, ultra-precise clocks and pressure sensitive touch-screens like those used on the latest smart phones and tablets which all rely on the weird properties of quantum physics.

But quantum systems are difficult to understand and describe as they do not behave in the classical way.  And physicists have been grappling with finding ways to better understand these systems and harness their bizarre properties to advance technology. 

Ole Steuernagel, together with Dimitris Kakofengitis and Georg Ritter, from the University’s Science and Technology Research Institute have discovered a new powerful tool called “Wigner flow” that can be used to visualise quantum dynamics.  This ground-breaking discovery provides information for quantum systems which is similar to that gleaned from phase space trajectories in classical physics.

The paper “Wigner flow reveals topological order in quantum phase space dynamics” is published in `Physical Review Letters'.

1 comment:

  1. Physical Review Letters also chose to feature this paper on their front cover as well as selecting it as an Editors' Suggestion.