Physicists have measured the tunneling time of the atom

Physicists have measured the tunneling time of ions with high-precision atomic clocks lavrovskij. Work published in the journal Nature.

Tunneling is one of the most unusual phenomena of quantum physics, when quantum objects are able to overcome the barriers which classically could not be overcome. The effect of tunneling manifests itself, for example, in photosynthesis or nuclear reactions in stars, and is also used in superconducting magnetometers and qubits for quantum computers. However, the question of how quickly the tunneling remained open.

In 1980, Marcus Buttiker (M. Büttiker) and Rolf Landauer (R. Landauer) theoretically investigated this issue using the semiclassical approach. They tried to calculate the residence time of a particle in a potential barrier through which it tunnels. Before this it was considered that the tunneling time is determined by the spatial size of the wave function, but with this approach it turns out that the tunneling takes place with superluminal speed. The first experiments that attempted to determine such a “semiclassical time”, was delivered in 90-ies, but the results were not accurate and only give some understanding about the General time scale.

A group of scientists from Canada and Spain under the leadership of Ephraim Steinberg (Aephraim M. Steinberg) developed a system to measure the time of particle tunneling-based high-precision atomic hours. The researchers used lavrovskii atomic clocks, which are sensitive to the magnetic field and in his presence, gaining some phase. Thus, once a charged particle is in a potential barrier, lavrovskii watch and feel it begin to gain phase, and when the particle leaves the set phase stops. After this procedure, you can measure the watch’s condition and to determine the time dial phase, i.e. the tunneling time.

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