Atom Split With Quantum Mechanics
The word atom literally means "indivisible." Yet somehow, scientists at the University of Bonn have found a way to 'split' and rejoin an atom using quantum mechanics, helping pave the way for more powerful computers.
These atoms, when pulled apart, can touch other atoms forming a bridge. Scientists are interested in creating these quantum bridges so that they can study processes like photosynthesis, which even our modern supercomputers cannot understand.
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Professor Dr. Dieter Meschede and his team managed to keep a single atom existing in two different places at the same time at a distance of more than ten micrometers, or 1/100 of a millimeter, apart.
The laws of quantum mechanics allow for an object to exist in more than one place at the same time. The double-split experiment proved this.
By exploiting the atom's spin, the scientists were able to use lasers to split the atom.
"The atom has kind of a split personality, half of it is to the right, and half to the left, and yet, it is still whole," explained lead author Andreas Steffen.
To determine that the atom was indeed in two places at the same time, the scientists observed the movements and strength of magnetic fields.
When the atoms are split and make contact with other atoms, information can be shared. These atoms can then be arranged into a memory and processing unit, potentially creating advanced computers.
"For us, an atom is a well-controlled and oiled cog," said team leader Dr. Andrea Alberti. "You can build a calculator with remarkable performance using these cogs, but in order for it to work, they have to engage."