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Using Quantum Waves to Measure Tiny Forces

Posted on 30th November 2016
When we go the coast, the fascinating thing about waves is that they change all the time in shape and size while they approach the beach. However, in a canal, you can also find a different type of wave, bright solitons - waves that do not change their shape. In very cold gases, quantum versions of these waves can be realised experimentally. In a publication by a team lead by Dr. Christoph Weiss from Durham University in the North-East of England, Dr. Bettina Gertjerenken used computers to show how these quantum waves can measure tiny forces [1].
 
This proposed measurement involves inherent quantum effects that allow more precise measurements than possible in the classical world [2,3]. While the current publication reports theoretical research, one of the co-authors, Dr. Timothy Wiles states "in a couple of years time, you might be able to buy a small box with which you can find oil in the Scottish highlands at places where you cannot find it today".
 
[1] B. Gertjerenken, T. P. Wiles, and C. Weiss, Physical Review A 94, 053638 (2016). http://dro.dur.ac.uk/20381/
[2] V. Giovannetti, S. Lloyd, and L. Maccone,  Science 306, 1330 (2004).
[3] C.  Gross,   T.  Zibold,   E.  Nicklas,   J.  Esteve, and M. K. Oberthaler, Nature (London) 464, 1165 (2010).

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