Researchers at the University of Chicago reported the first successful experiment to create a quantum state in molecular systems.
The authors of the new work were able to achieve the quantum state of the Bose-Einstein condensate for a molecular gas. This is a very big breakthrough in this direction since previously it was possible to achieve a quantum state only for atoms.
Bose-Einstein condensate is an aggregate state of matter, which is based on bosons cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero (less than a millionth of a Kelvin).
In such a highly cooled state, a sufficiently large number of atoms find themselves in their minimum possible quantum states, and quantum effects begin to manifest themselves at the macroscopic level.
Atoms are simple spherical objects, while molecules can vibrate, rotate, and carry a magnetic charge. Since molecules can do many different things, this makes them more useful, but at the same time, they are much more difficult to control.
Chen Chin, professor and research leader
To bring gas molecules into a quantum state, the authors first cooled them to 10 nanokelvin – almost to absolute zero – and then squeezed them under ultrahigh pressure so that they lined up in a line of identical molecules with the same orientation and the same vibration frequency, that is, brought them into a quantum state.
Now scientists have managed to link several thousand molecules, but they are confident that in the future the scale of experiments will become more impressive.