November 28, 2022

Atomtronic device could probe boundary between quantum, everyday worlds

A new device that relies on flowing clouds of ultracold atoms promises potential tests of the intersection between the weirdness of the quantum world and the familiarity of the macroscopic world we experience every day. The atomtronic Superconducting QUantum Interference Device (SQUID) is also potentially useful for ultrasensitive rotation measurements and as a component in quantum computers.

Although small, at only about 10 millionths of a meter across, the atomtronic SQUID is thousands of times larger than the molecules and atoms that are typically governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The relatively large scale of the device lets it test theories of macroscopic realism, which could help explain how the world we are familiar with is compatible with the quantum weirdness that rules the universe on very small scales. On a more pragmatic level, atomtronic SQUIDs could offer highly sensitive rotation sensors or perform calculations as part of quantum computers.

When the SQUID is rotated and the Josephson Junctions are moved toward each other, the populations of atoms in the semicircles change as a result of quantum mechanical interference of currents through Josephson Junctions. By counting the atoms in each section of the semicircle, the researchers can very precisely determine the rate the system is rotating. (

The paper has been published in Nature Communications.

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