Researchers at ETH Zurich Department of Physics demonstrate simultaneous control over transport and spin properties of cold atoms, and thus establish a framework for exploring concepts in spintronics and solid-state physics.
One of the more unexpected things that can be done with charge-neutral atoms is to use them to emulate the fundamental behaviour of electrons. In the past few years, the group of Tilman Esslinger at the Institute of Quantum Electronics in the Department of Physics of ETH Zurich has pioneered a platform in which atoms cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero are transported through one- and two-dimensional structures, driven by a potential difference. In this way defining phenomena occuring in mesoscopic electronic systems can be studied in great detail, not least quantized conductance. Laura Corman, Martin Lebrat and colleagues in the Esslinger group report that they have mastered in their transport experiments control over another quantum property of the atoms — their spin. (ETH).