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Now we know what electron shape looks like
Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 @ 14:43:28 GMT by vlad

Science Anonymous writes: Via sciencealert.com: For The First Time, The Geometry of an Electron Has Been Mapped by MICHELLE STARR
If you've ever opened a science textbook, you've probably seen a picture of an atom, with a cluster of protons and neutrons making up its nucleus, around which whirls a swarm of electrons. But you also probably know that all these particles aren't shaped like neat little spheres, as usually depicted.

As far as we know, electrons don't actually have a 'shape' per se - rather, they are either point particles or they are behaving like a wave, which changes shape depending on its energy. Now, for the first time, physicists have revealed the mapping of a single electron in an artificial atom.



The technique involves the use of quantum dots, tiny semiconducting crystals on nanometre scales. You may have heard of quantum dot display technology, such as QLED televisions, but they're useful for a lot more than watching Avengers in high definition.

They are also referred to as artificial atoms because they can basically trap electrons and confine their movement in three dimensions, holding them in place with electric fields. These trapped electrons behave like electrons bound to an atom, and remain in specific locations.

Using a spectroscope, the researchers were able to determine the energy levels in a quantum dot, observing how they behave in magnetic fields of varying strength and orientation.

This in turn allowed the team to calculate the shape of an electron's wave function within the quantum dot, down to scales even smaller than a nanometre.

"To put it simply, we can use this method to show what an electron looks like for the first time," said physicist Daniel Loss of the University of Basel.

But that wasn't all they did. By tuning the electric field, they were able to change the shape of the electron movement, controlling their spins in a highly targeted and precise manner.

This has tremendous implications for future research and technology. It could play a role in quantum entanglement research, since successful entanglement requires the wave functions of two electrons to be oriented along the same plane. Being able to control the shape of an electron's wave function could be vastly beneficial.

As for technology, the spin rate of an electron is a candidate for use as a qubit, the smallest unit of information in a quantum computer, but only if the spin can be brought under control.

Since this spin is partially dependent on the geometry of an electron, this is one potential method for achieving that control.

The research has been published in two papers in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B.


 
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"Now we know what electron shape looks like" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment | Search Discussion
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New study cast a new light on pear'like shape of Radon isotope (Score: 1)
by vlad on Friday, June 07, 2019 @ 13:36:27 GMT
(User Info | Send a Message) http://www.zpenergy.com
Anonymous writes: The observation of vibrating pear-shapes in radon nuclei

Abstract: There is a large body of evidence that atomic nuclei can undergo octupole distortion and assume the shape of a pear. This phenomenon is important for measurements of electric-dipole moments of atoms, which would indicate CP violation and hence probe physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. Isotopes of both radon and radium have been identified as candidates for such measurements. Here, we observed the low-lying quantum states in 224Rn and 226Rn by accelerating beams of these radioactive nuclei. We show that radon isotopes undergo octupole vibrations but do not possess static pear-shapes in their ground states. We conclude that radon atoms provide less favourable conditions for the enhancement of a measurable atomic electric-dipole moment.

Introduction: It is well established by the observation of rotational bands that atomic nuclei can assume quadrupole deformation with axial and reflection symmetry, usually with the shape of a rugby ball. The distortion arises from long-range correlations between valence nucleons, which becomes favourable when the proton and/or neutron shells are partially filled. For certain values of proton and neutron number it is expected that additional correlations will cause the nucleus to also assume an octupole shape (‘pear-shape’) where it loses reflection symmetry in the intrinsic frame1. The fact that some nuclei can have pear-shapes has influenced the choice of atoms having nuclei with odd nucleon number A (=Z + N) employed to search for permanent electric-dipole moments (EDMs)...




 

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