Three physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have reported the first observation of a phenomenon called chaos-assisted tunneling (CAT). This effect was predicted by physicists doing basic research in the area of quantum mechanics more than a decade ago and has been the subject of many theoretical studies since that time.
An article on this subject will be published online in the journal Science on Thursday (July 5). The authors include Daniel Steck, Windell Oskay and Dr. Mark G. Raizen of the UT Austin department of physics.
Preparations for the experiment to observe chaos-assisted tunneling began about a year ago. The UT Austin team reports it has made the observations using ultra-cold cesium atoms.
“This result is important as a pioneering experimental study of quantum dynamics in mixed phase space and opens many possibilities for interesting future study,” Raizen said.
Raizen, who specializes in experimental atom optics, is a UT Austin professor of physics and holds the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Physics. Steck and Oskay both work in Raizen’s Atom Optics Laboratory. Steck is a sixth-year graduate student and research assistant and Oskay is a fifth-year graduate student and research assistant.
Researchers at the Atom Optics Laboratory use laser-cooled atoms in time dependent optical potentials to study a wide range of fundamental problems. The main areas of interest are quantum chaos, atom optics and quantum transport in optical lattices.