back to article Scientists shift electron orbits for atomic storage and quantum computing

Scientists have found a way to stabilize and regulate the orbit of electrons in an atom, after drawing inspiration from the orbit of asteroids around Jupiter. In 1913 Danish physicist Neils Bohr’s eponymous Model postulated atoms were formed of electrons orbiting a nucleus, much like planets around the sun – only using …

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Anonymous Coward

mesoscopic

I learned a new word today, and it's got to be one of the best new words I've learned in a long time.

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"The team got an atom up to the size of a human blood cell during testing."

That is an utterly astonishing result - seriously eye-crossing.

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Go

I agree and it makes me wonder, too...

If significant numbers of these superscaled atoms could be created and maintained (i.e. stored such that they didn't 'revert back to normal after a few cycles'...), lets say iron or copper or aluminium atoms, and it was possible to combine them into a crystaline 'composite' of superscaled atoms, what properties/characteristics of such superscaled crystaline elements would be exhibited? For instance:

Would it still be able to conduct electricity?

If so, given the cross-sectional area will have increased massively, would such a modified element behave like a superconductor at normal temperature?

How brittle or pliable or malleable are such materials?

What would be their 'breaking strain'?

Could they be extruded into a wire form?

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Maybe .......

...... aluminium would become transparent?

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The structure of the material

would not be solid, or even liquid, at room temperature - the atoms would have to be too far apart.

And would have a nasty tendency to try to turn into one or other with a massive release of energy.

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WTF?

Re: utterly astonishing

Yes, and then they had to go and spoil it with some brainless wittering about quantum computing and storage. (Instant fail --> if your technique needs a laser, then it will never be smaller than the wavelength of the light, which is substantially larger, per bit, than existing tech.)

Hey guys, you scaled an atom by about 4 orders of magnitude. You don't need to tick the "relevance" box. Just wallow in your awesomeness and be done with.

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Too late

"..... aluminium would become transparent?"

Already been done:

http://www.physorg.com/news167925273.html

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Re: reverting to normal

"(i.e. stored such that they didn't 'revert back to normal after a few cycles'...)"

Hold on a minute there. This is news *precisely because* no-one has ever seen an atom that was not at its normal size. And I'm talking normal to an extraordinary degree of precision here, since we've been measuring atomic radii and firing X-rays at crystals for a century now, and a lot (most?) of physical chemistry would be very different if atoms weren't as interchangeable as lego bricks.

I'd say that's a *pretty big hint* that nature doesn't let you store "inflated" atoms without a constant pumping from an external energy supply.

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@Ken Hagan

"(Instant fail --> if your technique needs a laser, then it will never be smaller than the wavelength of the light, which is substantially larger, per bit, than existing tech.)"

Not *strictly* true. Look up confocal near field microscopy. The techniques can also be used to illuminate.

I'll also note that interferometry methods have delivered pictures of surfaces with parts that differ by *single* atomic planes. Other methods can identify the crystal orientation on a boule of Silicon *without* needing an X-ray machine to do so.

Before electron microscopes were standard kit for every university old school physicists got quite adept at pushing the *apparent* limits of their hardware.

Mine's the one with "Introduction to interferometry" by Tolansky in the pocket.

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Happy

@John Smith 19

I'll upvote you for the references (and you did say *strictly*), but I still reckon you'd be hard pushed to make the total optical assembly smaller than a wavelength. Enjoy your Tolansky.

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Happy

@Ken hagan

"but I still reckon you'd be hard pushed to make the total optical assembly smaller than a wavelength."

Quite true. The sub wavelength imaging is possible but making the *hardware* sub wavelength is not (AFAIK).

However using a MEMS approach the hardware could be quite compact EG disk head sized. there have certainly been MEMS electron microscope (and ion thruster) projects.

I still have trouble understanding how an electron, which is *tiny* (relative to the wavelength of any visible light) can actually absorb light at all.

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FAIL

@Ken Hagan

Hold on a minute there. This is news *precisely because* no-one has ever seen an atom that was not at its normal size. And I'm talking normal to an extraordinary degree of precision here, since we've been measuring atomic radii and firing X-rays at crystals for a century now, and a lot (most?) of physical chemistry would be very different if atoms weren't as interchangeable as lego bricks.

I'd say that's a *pretty big hint* that nature doesn't let you store "inflated" atoms without a constant pumping from an external energy supply.

-------------------

Just because we've never seen an atom of a different size in nature doesn't mean that this very specific technique couldn't allow "inflated" atoms to become stable under some circumstances. Probably not for a single free atom, but possibly there could be a way that they could remain inflated if there were part of some larger structure. Which could provide materials scientists with years of fun determining their properties and thinking up uses for them.

I'm not suggesting this will happen, just suggesting that your conclusion that stability without additional energy does not logically follow from the observation we've never seen one in nature.

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Anonymous Coward

Chaotic computing

is already here - it usually turns up just after beer o'clock.

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Joke

Or, if you're running windoze...

just after you switch on! ;-)

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Joke

I thought that involved chaotic computing involved students making arbitrary changes to code to see if it works now,

or is that chaotic programming?

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Coat

Nah, Chaotic Computing is just another term for Government IT......

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Atoms? Bah.

Didn't Dirac suggest photons could be stored inside electrons as the ultimate method of data stirage?

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Hmm...

Could this be used to help with a possible fusion concept?

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Terminator

Big atoms

Does this mean we can assemble nano bots under laser light then gradually reduce it so they shrink back down to molecular scale? If so that would be awesome. Probably would prohibit self replicating though.

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Probably

If they can get hold of a reasonable quantity of Jumbonium.

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Meh

Might have some uses in catalysed fusion.

IIRC Muons are 200x more massive than electrons and could bring the nuclei in closer to a point where they could fuse.

Trouble is the Muons have short lives (Microseconds?).

I'm thinking it *might* be possible to construct artificial atoms of widely spaced *multiple* nuclei then gradually collapse them in such a way they fuse together *without* flying apart. I'm thinking of building a big "pool" of them in one go then gradually drawing them off to drive them into the fusion state.

Yes it's a wild speculation but I doubt it will the *most* wild speculation this achievement will generates. Some may even be feasible.

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Boffin

There are in fact 5 Lagrangian points; the two most generally stable (L4 and L5) are those mentioned in the article as containing the Trojan asteroids. Since the Trojans are clustered in somewhat elongated, curved areas of space surrounding the actual L4 and L5 points, it's probably best to refer to "regions" or "points" rather than "belts", which would imply a complete ring.

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