A scientific team led by Amherst Physics Professor David S. Hall ’91 and Aalto University (Finland) Professor Mikko Möttönen is again making news in scientific journals and beyond, for its research in quantum mechanics.
“The same team who tied the first ‘quantum knots’ in a superfluid several years ago have now discovered that the knots decay, or ‘untie’ themselves, fairly soon after forming, before turning into a vortex,” Ars Technica recently reported. “The researchers also produced the first ‘movie’ of the decay process in action, and they described their work in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters.”
“We hadn’t been able to study the dynamics of these sorts of three-dimensional structures experimentally before, so this is the first step to this direction,” Tuomas Ollikainen, a Ph.D. student at Aalto University who conducted the experiments at the Amherst lab, told SciTech Daily. “The fact that the knot decays is surprising, since topological structures like quantum knots are typically exceptionally stable. It’s also exciting for the field because our observation that a three-dimensional quantum defect decays into a one-dimensional defect hasn’t been seen before in these quantum gas systems.”