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Dr. Amruta Gadge setting up the lasers before having to work from homeUniversity of Sussex
A physicist from the University of Sussex in England has created the fifth state of matter from her very own home.
Dr. Amruta Gadge successfully made a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) using quantum technology. The research team working alongside Dr. Gadge believes this could provide a blueprint for operating quantum technology in inaccessible places such as Space.
First time this is achieved remotely
"We believe this may be the first time that someone has established a BEC remotely in a lab that didn’t have one before. We are all extremely excited that we can continue to conduct our experiments remotely during lockdown, and any possible future lockdowns," said Peter Krüger, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Sussex.
He continued, "But there are also wider implications beyond our team. Enhancing the capabilities of remote lab control is relevant for research applications aimed at operating quantum technology in inaccessible environments such as space, underground, in a submarine, or in extreme climates."
A BEC is made up of a cloud of hundreds of thousands of rubidium atoms that are cooled down to nanokelvin temperatures — very, very cold as it's more than a billion times beneath freezing.
At that stage, the atoms take on a different property and work all together as one quantum object. This quantum object can then sense very low magnetic fields.
Typically, this is all done and managed in a very controlled lab situation — but as the timing required a lockdown across the U.K., the team had to work remotely and manage all of this from their own homes. No easy feat.
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Dr. Amruta Gadge from the Quantum Systems and Devices Laboratory explained: "The research team has been observing lockdown and working from home and so we have not been able to access our labs for weeks. But we were determined to keep our research going so we have been exploring new ways of running our experiments remotely. It has been a massive team effort."
Dr. Gadge continued "The process has been a lot slower than if I had been in the lab as the experiment is unstable and I’ve had to give 10-15 minutes of cooling time between each run. This is obviously not as efficient and way more laborious to do manually because I’ve not been able to do systematic scans or fix the instability like I could working in the lab."
It's looking like some of the team may be able to return to the lab for further research soon, as she said, "We’re hopeful of establishing a skeleton crew back in the labs with social distancing measures in place as soon as it is safe to do so and permitted but we will be able to have many of the team continuing to work from home on a rota basis thanks to the progress we have made with remote working."
They're not the only team working and operating fascinating projects from home, check out what NASA has been up to as well.