|Scheme:||Royal Society Research Professorship|
|Dates:||Oct 2006 - Sep 2011|
This researcher's grant funding has now finished. The information on this page may be out of date.
Imperial College London
The goal of my research is to exert full control over small groups of atoms or molecules that are so cold they are almost motionless. Learning how to do this is an exciting experimental challenge in itself since the methods of cooling, trapping and manipulating are still in the earliest stages of development and we are still discovering the limits of how precise this control can be. In pushing the limits we have to solve a host of new technical problems. We also confront deep intellectual questions about quantum mechanics: how should we describe the state of a system containing several atoms or molecules? how much information can be stored in such a system? and how is the system influenced by measurements we might make or by random disturbances from the environment? The 20th century gave us important quantum technologies such as the laser, magnetic resonance imaging, and the global positioning system. These are based on moving parts that vibrate inside atoms or molecules. My research is an extension of that, which seeks to harness the relative motions of atoms or molecules in an ensemble. One practical result will be improved sensitivity of quantum measurement devices (clocks, magnetometers, accelerometers etc.). Beyond that, we expect fundamentally new devices to emerge from this research. For example, according to theory, the control of such an ensemble will unlock tremendous computing power, which might help us understand complex many-body problems such as high-temperature superconductivity or quantum physics of the early universe.