Nothing holds time like a heart beating atom. But even the crooked streak of a vibrating nucleus is constrained by uncertainty imposed by the laws of quantum mechanics.
Several years ago, researchers from MIT and the University of Belgrade in Serbia suggested that the entry of a quantum of clocks could push past this dark border.
Now, we have proof of concept in test form. Physicists attached a cloud of ytterbium-171 atoms with streams of photons reflected from a surrounding mirror hall and measured the time of their tiny wiggles.
Their findings show that atoms engaged in this way could accelerate the time measurement process of atomic nucleus clocks, making them more accurate than ever. In principle, a clock based on this new approach would lose just 100 milliseconds from the very beginning of time.
Like other advanced clocks based on the nucleus of cesium and thorium atoms, time in this type of situation is divided by oscillations in the ytterbium nucleus after it absorbs a certain energy of light.
Since the heart of ytterbium can be made into hum at the rate of 100,000 times faster than the nucleus of a cesium atom, it makes a device for holding time much more accurately.
But there comes a point when quantum physics says it is impossible to say exactly where atomic oscillations begin and stop. This Standard Quantum Standard (SQL) acts as a blur on the atomic pinnacle; you may have a faster ticking clock, but what good is it if you can’t even measure it?
Without a way to overcome this obstacle, it doesn’t matter if we put out one set of atomic nuclei for a more precise type – the quantum misalignment sets a hard limit on how precise this is. there are atomic clocks.
One trick is to record the frequency of multiple atoms sinking completely at the same time within a surface containing hundreds of tiny atomic plants. Conventional atomic clock technologies use lasers engineered to be as stable as possible, emitting light very similar to all atoms. By combining their circular blur, individual insecurities get out of hand on average.
This new approach goes a step further in this average process. By connecting atoms in a way that addresses the quantum probability of the spins, it is possible to redistribute uncertainty in the system, increasing accuracy in some parts. at the expense of others.
“It’s as if light serves as a communication link between atoms,” says MIT physicist Chi Shu.
“The first atom that sees this light changes the light slightly, and that light also changes the second atom, and the third atom, and through many circles, the atoms together experience it. each other and start the same behavior. “
Whichever method is used, the longer you listen, the more accurate the final result will be. In this case, the team found that they engaged in the measurement process about three times faster compared to clocks working at the SQL.
That may not sound so amazing, but a speed increase could be just what we need to explore some of the most subtle effects of the Universe in it. the time.
“As the Universe ages, does the speed of light change? Does the cost of the electron change?” said MIT chief researcher Vladan Vuletic.
“That’s what you can prove with more accurate atomic clocks.”
It might even allow us to find the point at which a common relationship falls apart, highlighting a new physics that connects the marked curvature of space-time with the uncertain nature of quantum fields. Or let’s take a better look at the delicate features of a dark time.
Standing at the edge of a new age in physics and astronomy, we desperately need time.
This research was published in Nature.