Scientists observe “extreme quantum chemistry” for the first time – DW – 08/11/2023

Researchers at the University of Chicago have made an unprecedented breakthrough in proof-of-concept “Super Quantum Chemistry”, It was theoretically predicted but never observed in the laboratory.

In this innovative form of chemical reaction, all atoms or molecules are alike quantum state This results in a significantly higher rate of chemical reaction than that in which atoms or molecules participate in different quantum states.

the results of this work, Published in the journal nature physics Opening a promising field of research. The scientific community is very interested in what are known as “quantum-powered chemical reactions” because of their potential applications in areas such as quantum chemistry, quantum computing, and other cutting-edge technologies.

In addition, this breakthrough can also contribute to a deeper understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the universe, as shown In the official statement.

“Superquantum Chemistry”: Mass and Accelerated Interaction

“Superquantum chemistry” is characterized by mass and accelerated chemical reactions. To achieve the observation of this new form of enriched chemistry, scientists at the University of Chicago faced the challenge of exciting not just atoms, but entire molecules, into the same quantum state. This was particularly complicated because molecules, being larger than atoms, required the development of new processing techniques.

Once the obstacles were overcome, it was possible to appreciate that the chemical reactions were conducted together, rather than individually. This chemical cooperation intensified as the density of the atoms participating in the reaction increased, resulting in a faster reaction rate.

“What we saw was consistent with theoretical predictions,” Cheng Chen, a professor of physics and fellow at the James Franck Institute and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, whose lab conducted the research, told the news. launch. “This has been a science goal for 20 years, so it’s a very exciting era,” he adds.

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Cold Chemistry

These experiments fall within the realm of cryogenic chemistry, which strives for detailed control of chemical reactions by taking advantage of the quantum interactions found in extreme cold states. Ultracold particles can, for example, be used as qubits in quantum computing.

In this study, atoms and molecules were used in a Bose-Einstein condenser, Which represents the fifth state of matter. At extremely low temperatures, these particles unite into a single quantum mechanical entity.

The particles interact in a synchronous and coherent manner

Compared to traditional chemistry, where individual atoms collide and there is the potential to form molecules in each collision, quantum mechanics predicts that atoms in the same quantum state work together. Therefore, a chemical reaction is no longer considered simply as a collision of independent particles, but as a collective process in which all particles interact in a simultaneous and coherent manner, Professor Chen said.

The research found that although the end result of the reaction was a molecule made up of two atoms, three atoms were actually involved, with an extra atom interacting with two bonding atoms to facilitate the reaction.

This study focused on simple particles, and the next step, as expressed by Professor Chen, will be to explore the possibility of achieving “superquantum chemistry” with more complex particles.

“How far we can push our understanding and knowledge of quantum geometry into more complex particles is an important research direction in this scientific community,” Chen said.

Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.

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