Rydberg Polarons – A new state of matter

 

Relevancy:

  • GS Prelims, GS Mains paper III
  • Sci-tech, new state of matter, Rydberg polarons, Bose Einstein Condesation, dark matter

Recently:

  • An international team of physicists have been successful in creating a new state of matter termed “Rydberg polarons”.

How is this new state achieved?

  • To achieve this new state, the scientists have created a “giant atom” and filled it with ordinary atoms
  • These atoms are held together by a weak bond under the conditions of very cold temperatures.
  • This is an intricate experiment that builds upon several advances that were achieved over the past two decades.
  • It uses ideas from two different fields, which have already been discovered:
    • Bose Einstein Condensation and
    • Rydberg atoms.

Bose Einstein Condensate:

  • BEC is a liquid-like state of matter that occurs at very low temperatures.
  • A BEC can be perturbed to create excitations which are like ripples on a lake.
  • Rydberg atoms:
  • Normally, atoms in an electron revolve around the nucleus in regular orbits.
  • But in case of a Rydberg atom, an electron is excited by a laser light in such a manner that it jumps to a larger orbit.
  • This larger orbit can adjust many smaller atoms in side itself. Strontium atoms were used in this experiment.
  • As the electron moves around many strontium atoms, it generates ripples of the BEC.
  • The Rydberg atom becomes inextricably mixed with these ripples and forms a new super-atom called a ‘Rydberg polaron’.
  • Why is this study important?
  • This experiment is of use in cosmology, especially in understanding the mysterious ‘dark matter’, which exerts a gravitational force on all other forms of matter.
  • There exist some postulates that ‘dark matter’ is nothing but Bose Einstein Condensate of an unknown element.

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