March 26, 2019 —
Dr. Mikhail Lukin is a Professor at Harvard University and a 2015 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowesearch interests include the behavior of isolated atomic systems. His work has recently uncovered what may be a completely a new class of quantum systems. Dr. Lukin and his research group arranged a line of 51 rubidium atoms alternating between atoms at a low-energy state and those at a higher-energy state. As expected, the atoms initially moved from this highly-ordered structure into a more random jumble between the high and low-energy atoms.
But then, defying expected thermodynamics, the rubidium attoms later returned to the original alternating pattern. Even in the quantum realm, this is shocking behavior. It is analogous to dropping an ice cube into hot water, and the ice cube continously melting and reforming, over and over again. Dr. Lukin's group termed this phenomenon 'many-body quantum scarring' after a related phenomenon in single-atom systems. Another research group at Princeton University has suggested that scars could be a broader phenomenon with applications in different areas of condensed matter physics. This discovery also points to methods to make qbits less fragile when crafting quantum computers.
The full article describing Dr. Lukin's research finding is available at: https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-scarring-appears-to-defy-universes-push-for-disorder-20190320/