A quasiparticle formation was observed for the first time ever. This breakthrough can open many channels of applications such as super-speed electronics and quantum processors.
The formation of quasiparticles has long been seen as a peculiar phenomenon that occurs in certain solids. But in order to get an idea and appreciate the remarkable breakthrough in physics, we should first try to understand and get to know what quasiparticles are.
Getting To Know Quasiparticles
In our world, there are a lot of bizarre yet marvelous things happening around waiting to be discovered and understood. One of those is the state or concept of the emergent phenomena to describe the formation in particles which dwells on some quite ornate setups.
It fundamentally occurs in a microscopically complex system. One example is when solid behaves like it consists of weakly interacting particles in a vacuum free space, also called as a perfect vacuum.
Another example is when an electron, as it moves through solid, with its electrical charge causes a polarization in the environment. The “polarization cloud,” along with the electron, moving through the material can now be described as the quasiparticle.
To make it even more understandable, Rudolf Grimm from the University of Innsbruck in Austria, who led the study published in Science, paints a scenario. Grimm says one can picture out a skier during a powder day.
It can be easily deduced that the skier is surrounded by a cloud of snow crystals. Together, they create a system that has “different properties” as to when there is no cloud with the skier.
And previously, that is all there is when it comes to defining these special particles – theoretical models. That is because observing the phenomenon is extremely complicated and difficult since the formation only happens in a short-lived small scale.
According to Grimm, the process only happens in an attosecond which is one quintillionth of a second or a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion years. Basically speaking, it is really, really, really fast.
From Attoseconds to Microseconds
The team of researchers led by Grimm were able to come up with a solution to somehow slow down the process a little bit for an enough time to observe the formation in real time. For the study, they created Fermi polaron, a type of quasiparticle that is potassium atoms ingrained in a lithium cloud, with the use of the magnetic field.
They were able to observe it inside a vacuum chamber with laser trapping techniques. The formation of the particles was slowed down a bit thanks to the ultracold quantum gas.
Instead of attoseconds, Grimm says the formation time for the polarons only took microseconds. One millionth of a second is still quite fast but is more observable for the scientists.
Now that the formation is examined, being able to measure the quasiparticle will provide ways in developing it. It will also lead to broadening our understanding of the physical properties of quantum and its applications for ultrafast electronics.