New method for measuring time
#astronomy #apod #science #time #space
A research team at Uppsala University in Sweden has discovered a new way to measure time. They published a paper in Physical Review Letters.
Historically, the means of measuring the passage of time has been to count predetermined units of measure from one point in time to another. For example, count the seconds passed while a person is walking. One such means of measuring time is the method used in conventional clocks and atomic clocks. In this new endeavor, researchers have found a way to measure the passage of time in a completely different way by exploiting the wave-like nature of Rydberg. A Rydberg atom is an atom that has been lasered to bring electrons to a very high energy state, pushing them away from the nucleus. The way electrons move is described as Rydberg states, and the mathematical way electrons are characterized is known as wave packets.
Previous studies have shown that interference can occur when Rydberg wave packets meet other packets of the same kind. Then, a unique wave pattern emerges. And researchers in this new experiment are discovering that when multiple wave bundles travel within the same quantum ‘pond’, different kinds of interference occur, with many uniquely evolving patterns. . They also noted that each unique pattern represents a unique time taken to evolve compared to all other patterns in its vicinity. That is, it can be used as a timestamp.
The researchers ran a series of experiments testing these timestamps to see if they could be used as a new way of telling the time. Each excited helium atoms with laser pulses and short bursts of ultraviolet light, allowing their spectra to be measured. They manipulated what they called a “clock” and found that it could measure up to 81 picoseconds and had an error of no more than 8 femtoseconds.