Previous news items have been archived and can be accessed through the links on the right column. We have switched to a rolling format with newer items appearing at the top.
An international collaboration of theorists has shown how to measure nothing. Specifically, they show how to find out whether there are any photons in a quantum field without disturbing its coherence in the case the vacuum is not found. This requires that no information is gained about the number of photos in the field, apart from the fact that there is at least one.
The team consisting of Daniel Oi and John Jeffers from Strathclyde, and Václav Potoček from the Czech Technical University in Prague (now at Strathclyde), suggests using a three-level atom controlled by a laser to probe the field stored in a cavity using an adiabatic transition. Moreover, modelling suggests that the process is robust against common sources of imperfection. The results have been selected to be an Editor's Suggestion in this week's Physical Review Letters Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 210504 (2013) and are spotlighted in the Synopsis section of Physics
Flatpack Optical Traps
A UK collaboration has developed compact optical devices that could revolutionize portable atomic clocks and sensors. Previously this has required bulky vacuum and optical technology. In this new work, microfabrication technology was employed to etch microscopic gratings that when illuminated by a laser can cool an atomic cloud to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero (-273 C). This has application in ultra-precise portable atomic clocks, such as those used in GPS navigation, to magnetometers and accelerometers for use in telecommunication, space technology, geological exploration, and medical imaging.
The team, led by Strathclyde, also included researchers from the University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, and the National Physical Laboratory. The research appeared in Nature Nanotechnology 8, 321–324 (2013) as its cover story. For more details, see the press release.
Carnegie Centenary Professor David Miller
Strathclyde Physics is honoured to be hosting the visit of Prof David Miller (Stanford), a pioneer of optoelectronics and recipient of a Carnegie Centenary Professorship. He is visiting Strathclyde till mid-June.
David Miller received his B. Sc. degree from St. Andrews University and, in 1979, his Ph.D. from Heriot-Watt University, both in Physics. He was with Bell Laboratories from 1981 to 1996, as a department head from 1987. Since 1996 he has been at Stanford University, where he is currently the W. M. Keck Professor of Electrical Engineering, a Professor by Courtesy of Applied Physics, and a Co-Director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center. He has been active in professional societies and was President of the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society in 1995. His research interests include physics and devices in nanophotonics, nanometallics, and quantum-well optoelectronics, and fundamentals and applications of optics in information sensing, switching, and processing. He has published more than 250 scientific papers and the text “Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers”, holds 69 patents, has received several awards, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Americal Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and IEEE, holds two honorary degrees, and is a Member of both US National Academies (of Sciences and of Engineering).
Relativity Safe Again
A purported paradox placing the Lorentz force at odds with special relativity has been resolved by Steve Barnett. The conundrum was published in Physical Review Letters last year but a recent reply by Barnett explains how the seeming incompatibility vanishes when a full account of relativistic momentum is taken. Three other commenters made similar arguments in their replies. The controversy has been covered in various popular science outlets including Science.
Postgraduate News 2013
Student picks up honours at IOP Conference
Many congratulations to Kathryn Humphrey who was awarded the best student poster prize at the 40th Institute of Physics (IoP) Annual Conference on Plasma Physics, 25-28th March 2013, University of York, UK. With over 80 entrants the prize was awarded for her work on “Effects of Collisions on Amplification of Laser Beams by Brillouin Scattering in Plasmas”. Kathryn is in the third year of her PhD working in the Atoms, Beams and Plasmas (ABP) group with supervisors Bob Bingham and David Speirs. Kathryn is keeping up the tradition of Strathclyde students winning this prize which was awarded to ABP student Amy MacLachlan at last year’s 2012, 39th IoP Plasma Physics Conference at the University of Oxford, UK.