After research, scientists have found that the model used for the Efimov molecule, a certain type of quantum particle, is incorrect after being used for 10 years. The findings are a complete shock, even to the scientist performing the experiments. “I have to say that I am surprised,” says research leader Cheng Chin, from the University of Chicago. “This was an experiment where I did not anticipate the result before we got the data.”
The new information will change the essential information about molecules around the birth of the Universe. The findings were published in the journal Nature Physics.
Efimov molecules are a delicate combination of three particles, usually created where two-particle molecules are impossible. They are held together with quantum forces, which easily break down at room temperature. It was previously thought that the overall size of an Efimov article is linked to the individual size of the particles that make it up, a characteristic called ‘universality’.
“This hypothesis has been checked and rechecked multiple times in the past 10 years, and almost all the experiments suggested that this is indeed the case,” Chin explains, “But some theorists say the real world is more complicated than this simple formula. There should be some other factors that will break this universality.”
In order to study the molecule closer, Chin had to develop a very advanced technique over the course of years. It had to be performed only fractions of a degree above absolute zero and in a powerful magnetic field that wouldn’t interfere with the quantum bond of the molecule. Jacob Johanson, a member of Chin’s team, discovered a way to maintain the magnetic field while also making a precise probe of the molecule possible.
“[Johansen] can control the field with such high accuracy and perform very precise measurements on the size of these Efimov molecules and for the first time the data really confirm that there is a significant deviation of the universality,” Chin said.
The results of the experiment have a deep impact on our understanding of physics. Now scientist may understand why certain matter has a wide range of characteristics not indicated by identical quantum behavior. Studying the Efimov three-body system helps scientists understand at what brief and precise point that universal material behavior disintegrates.
“Any quantum system made with three or more particles is a very, very difficult problem,” Chin added. “Only recently do we really have the capability to test the theory and understand the nature of such molecules… This will be a building block for understanding the more complex material.”
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