Team extends the lifetime of atoms using a mirror

Oct 22, 2015

Moa Carlsson and Lisa Kinnerud, Krantz NanoArt

By Chalmers University of Technology

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in an experiment where they get an artificial atom to survive ten times longer than normal by positioning the atom in front of a mirror. The findings were recently published in the journal Nature Physics.

If one adds energy to an atom – one says that the atom is excited—it normally takes some time before the atom loses energy and returns to its original state. This time is called the of the atom. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have placed an at a specific distance in front of a  that acts as a mirror. By changing the distance to the mirror, they can get the atom to live longer, up to ten times as long as if the mirror had not been there.

The artificial atom is actually a superconducting electrical circuit that the researchers make behave as an atom. Just like a natural atom, you can charge it with energy; excite the atom; which it then emits in the form of light particles. In this case, the light has a much lower frequency than ordinary light and in reality is microwaves.

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