A New State Of Matter You Might Have Never Heard About.

(Last Updated On: May 10, 2018)

A New State of Matter

From past couple of months, scientists at many universities including (but not limited to) at University of Chicago and at  Pennsylvania State University have been researching on a new state of matter which some refer to as the Rydberg Polaritons.

And yes, you heard that right!

A new state of matter!

And No, this doesn’t violate QFT (Quantum Field Theory) or another such high rise theories.

In fact it might be a very good example of them!

Though Rydberg Polaritons are not exactly a new state completely but are surely formed in the middle of an interesting process.

But what is a Rydberg Polariton?

Since we are committed to explain you the hardest physics concepts in the best possible way, here we go;

You know that a Photon is a a bundle of energy that is particle sometimes and wave the other times.

And an atom is just a nucleus with electrons around it in probability density.

So if I were to study an atom, I have a problem, though it is very interactive but it moves slowly.

Or if I were to study a photon, I have a problem too, though it is fast but is less interactive.

So what now?

Stop physics?

‘No way!’ is what those researchers said.

So they then found a way.

Why not study a hybrid of photons and atoms? which they called Rydberg Polariton.

These are actually a marriage of Photons and Rydberg atoms (highly excited atoms, mostly the hydrogen atoms).

You can clearly see the energy difference between atoms in ground state (stable state) and the ones in excited state (rydberg state). Image credit: University of Michigan

You can think it as different state of particle which is both a Photon and an atom.

Or like a Photon trapped inside an atom (rydberg atom, to be exact).

But this is still a mystery how these photons ‘interact’ with atoms to form such particles.

But how are these even obtained?

The dots in middle are Rydberg Atoms, the red and blue rays are photons fired through. The violet rays are Dipole trap to keep the atoms in the place. Image source: phys.org

Making them is not as easy as you might think it is.

First photons of a certain frequency are passed through highly excited hydrogen (or any other atom of specification) atoms under an optical resonator (in simple words, a device used to keep exciting atoms) at a temperature very close to absolute zero (0 kelvin).

Then under very low temperature and high exposure to photons through multiple sides, these two interact to form what we call a Rydberg Polariton.

However, even under these hard circumstances, their formation rate is not very common (pardon me for not giving serious physics and mathematical equations, as the result would be a complete disaster!).

How well does this go?

3D representation of a Rydberg Atoms Image credits: Purdue University

 

I can assure you are going to get shocked by knowing what happens next!

So these rydberg polaritons are in the gas cloud of these rydberg atoms. But then as the Photons were travelling, their polariton version is now travelling as well.

As these Polaritons, reach the end of the Gas Cloud, the Photons (that are captured inside rydberg atoms) now somehow, “Bond with each other” and then leave their Rydberg Atoms, thus making Photonic Particles.

Now this all is surely becoming confusing for some of you, so let me give you a final overview of what actually happened in the last 2.4 minutes.

The Overview

First the Photons are passed through a Gas of atoms (rubidium atoms, in this case) which are cooled to near absolute zero (0 kelvin).

Then, they form a strange particle called Rydberg Polariton in which photons are trapped inside Rydberg atoms (which are just highly excited atoms).

Now the Rydberg Polaritons travel through the gas cloud to where it ends.

As the gas cloud ends, the photons exit the gas cloud thereby leaving from the Rydberg atoms but then they strangely BOND to each other in pairs of 2’s or 3’s.

And viola, now we have not only 1 but 2 strange states or types of particles!

So this was all for this post. Comment down below how fond you became of these new Types of Particles.

Also remember to subscribe to our blog so you get notified every time we unleash another Physics Storm right here, on your Homescreen!

And yeah,

Always Love Physics!

 

Tanay Mehta

A lover of Tech as well as Physics. Truth seeker.

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