Quantum Physicists show that heat can cool

Quantm Physics is one of those things that defies logic. It deals with the way sub-atomic particles behave, and always produces truly bizaare findings. It states that matter and energy are the same thing, light can either be a wave or a particle depending on how we observe it, and electrons can be in two places at once. Simply put: on the quantum scale, things get weird. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Quantum Physicists in Germany have made a discovery that will seem somwhat counter-intuitive and surreal.

For the best part of 30 years, scientists have been able to cool down gases of atoms using laser light. If the light is coherent, the atoms will absorb and emit electrons, lose momentum, and the gas cools down. If, on the other hand, the laser light is incoherent, the gas will become heated. Makes sense so far? “Coherent” laser light is “cold”, “incoherent” laser light is “hot”.

But now, researchers at the Freie Universitaet Berlin have found a way to cool a mechanical quantum oscillator using incoherent light. So, in simple terms: a quantum system can be cooled down with a burst of hot light.

Quantum Physics produces yet another finding that defies logic.

Full story: Physics World http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/45763

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About MRW

Physics person.

Posted on May 9, 2011, in Chemistry, Physics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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