An Engineer Accidentally Solves a 58 Year Old Problem

Not all accidents find themselves on a tragic note. So just dive into the article then you’ll surely say that I’m right. Well, an accident in the laboratory generally gives you an idea of something bad might have happened. But now it’s something that makes us happy.

Australian Engineer discovers actual evidence of Nuclear Electric Resonance. This was first predicted by the Nobel winning physicist  Nicolaas Bloembergen. Thanks to the faulty equipment during a lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, with this breakthrough we now have scientists a brand new level of control over nuclei, and will seriously speed up the development of quantum computers.

“This discovery implies that we now have a pathway to create quantum computers using single-atom spins without the necessity for any oscillating magnetic flux for their operation,” says quantum physicist Andrea Morello. Morello added that we could use these nuclei as exquisite precise sensors of electrical and magnetic fields, to answer fundamental questions in quantum science.

Controlling a nuclear spin with electricity has far-reaching consequences. Generating magnetic fields requires large coils, high currents, and adding to this it is difficult to confine magnetic fields to tiny spaces as they have an inclination to have a wide area of influence.

Controlling individual atomic nuclei is much tougher with nuclear magnetic resonance.

Nuclear magnetic resonance is employed during a wide range of fields including medicine, chemistry and plenty of more. This works well for a few things, but in certain applications using this brings a disadvantage.

“Performing resonance is like trying to move a specific ball on a pool table by lifting and shaking the complete table,” says Morello. “We’ll move the intended ball, but we’ll also move all the others.”

“The breakthrough of electric resonance is like being handed an actual billiards stick to hit the ball exactly where you would like it.”

The team weren’t tuned in to this amazing breakthrough to control nuclear spins with electric fields, first suggested in 1961 by a pioneer of magnetic resonance and Nobel Laureate, Nicolaas Bloembergen.

They had the “EUREKA” moment when they realized that something was wrong. The nucleus behaved strangely, refusing to respond at certain frequencies, but showing a powerful response to others.

One of the lead authors of the work, Dr. Serwan Asaad, told: “What happened is that we fabricated a device containing an antimony atom and a special antenna, optimized to create a high-frequency magnetic field to regulate the nucleus of the atom. Our experiment demands this magnetic field to be quite strong, so we applied tons of power to the antenna, and we blew it up!”

“This landmark result will open up a treasure trove of discoveries and applications,” says Morello. “The system we created has enough complexity to study how the classical world we experience on a daily basis emerges from the quantum realm.”

“We can use its quantum complexity to create sensors of electromagnetic fields with vastly improved sensitivity and all this, in a simple device made in silicon, controlled with small voltages applied to a metal electrode.”

They have published research in Nature.

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