Imagine being able to walk in the shoes of the scientist and explore our atomic physics lab with your own eyes! With our new project, VLab, you will be able to do so from the comfort of your own desk!
VLab is a virtual version of our laboratory in the basement at Aarhus University. VLab will give you a full walkthrough of our experimental setup and let you interact with it. Users will be able to learn about all of the equipment that goes into making our atoms cold! Here you will be able to gain information about all the underlying physics that makes our experiment run. Too much too soon? Don’t worry! We will have learning tracks designed to teach you about the fundamentals of physics as you walk through our virtual lab.
What does the experiment do?
An atom is so small that it has to obey the laws of quantum physics, which are different from your everyday laws of physics. Thus, our experiment deals with inherently quantum particles, cooling them from room temperature down to the coldest temperature in the universe, -273C. When atoms are that cold, they all merge together and start to act as one combined atom. This collection of atoms, behaving as one, is called a Bose-Einstein-Condensate (or BEC). This BEC is a macroscopic quantum object that we can manipulate in a number of different and exciting ways (described in this blog post). But in order to do so, we need the BEC to be in a highly sterile environment. So we put it into a vacuum chamber, where there are no other atoms or molecules around to disturb our BEC. To prevent the atoms in the BEC from hitting the walls of the vacuum chamber we control their motion with magnetic fields and laser beams.
In the VLab, we will show and guide you through the whole process of making a BEC. We will show you how we make a good vacuum, how we create the right magnetic fields for trapping atoms and how we use lasers to interact with our atoms. In VLab, you will be able to create your own vacuum and design the magnetic fields (just as you could in the Alice Framework), so you can trap the atoms and cool them down yourself!
Learning with VLab
In VLab, we will guide you through all the different experiments and theories that make up the world of quantum physics. We will start off with known experimental facts, such as the color of a flame from different natural elements and the spectrum of these flames. Then, we will show you why these observations led to the Bohr theory of the hydrogen model and why the de Broglie model is equally valid. You will learn how atoms can act as particles and as waves at the same time and why Schrödinger’s equation is the best way to describe a single atom.
This is just one of the examples of the learning tracks you will be able to find in the VLab interface. We hope that this virtual lab will become a great learning tool for young or experienced physicists, as well as other curious minds eager to learn about the physics behind our experiment!
Development on this project is paused for now, but we hope to take it up in the future!
More quantum physics learning resources from other sources
Explore a unique experiment of fundamental quantum physics in the laboratories of the University of Vienna.