How does order emerge?
LMU/MPQ scientists analyse how fast order can appear in a quantum-mechanical system.
During the freezing of water, the molecules start to form an ordered crystal, namely ice. During this phase transition, they rearrange from an unordered into a more ordered state. How long does this phase transition take, i.e. how long does it take for each molecule to find its place in the crystal? While these questions have been studied extensively for classical systems, they are relatively unexplored in the context of quantum systems. By using ultracold atoms in optical lattices, a team led by Immanuel Bloch, Professor of Experimental Physics at LMU Munich and director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, and by Ulrich Schneider (LMU) have succeeded in measuring the emergence of order in a clean and well controlled experiment. Their results reveal deficiencies in current theoretical models and have been published this week in the „Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences“.
Press Release of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics