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PIB Summary for UPSC

27 February -2024

1. International collaboration of physicists achieves first successful laser cooled Positronium, a short-lived atom significant for quantum studies

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology
The laser cooling of Positronium at CERN is crucial for understanding quantum physics, relevant for UPSC science and technology syllabus.
Context
  • The AEgIS collaboration at CERN has achieved laser cooling of Positronium, a unique hydrogen-like atom, marking a breakthrough in quantum electrodynamics and offering insights into matter-antimatter interactions.
 Additional information on this news:
  • Breakthrough in Laser Cooling: The AEgIS collaboration, involving researchers from 19 European groups and one Indian group, has achieved the laser cooling of Positronium, a short-lived hydrogen-like atom. This marks a significant breakthrough in the field of quantum electrodynamics.
  • Experimental Setting: The complex experiments were conducted at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, involving the Antihydrogen Experiment: Gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy (AEgIS) collaboration.
  • Unique Composition: Positronium is a fundamental atom comprising an electron and a positron, both leptons, without the presence of usual nuclear matter. This makes it a purely leptonic atom and an ideal testing ground for bound-state quantum electrodynamics.
  • Indian Contribution: Sadiq Rangwala, a Professor at the Raman Research Institute in India, played a key role in the AEgIS collaboration. He led the Indian effort, contributing to the design of diagnostics for laser beam alignment at the CERN accelerator.
  • Technological Challenges: Laser cooling of Positronium required cutting-edge lasers and technological innovations. The experiment involved overcoming challenges related to ultraviolet and infrared frequency lasers in the CERN accelerator beam hall.
  • Temperature Reduction: The laser cooling successfully reduced the temperature of Positronium atoms from ~380 Kelvin to ~170 Kelvin, opening avenues for advanced studies and improved understanding of the interaction between light and charged matter.
  • Future Implications: The breakthrough paves the way for further studies, including the formation of exotic many-particle systems like Bose Einstein Condensates, and contributes to the AEgIS experiment’s goal of testing the equivalence principle in anti-Hydrogen.
Importance of Quantum Studies
  • Technological Advancements: Quantum studies have the potential to revolutionize technology through the development of quantum computers, which could solve complex problems much faster than classical computers.
  • Communication Security: Quantum cryptography offers secure communication channels by leveraging the principles of quantum entanglement, providing a quantum key distribution that is theoretically unhackable.
  • Material Science: Quantum mechanics provides insights into the behaviour of matter at the smallest scales, aiding the development of new materials with unique properties, impacting fields like electronics and medicine.
  • Fundamental Physics: Quantum studies deepen our understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe, challenging classical notions and paving the way for new theories that reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity.
  • Energy Efficiency: Quantum technologies hold the potential to enhance energy-efficient processes, such as quantum-enhanced sensing and computing, contributing to sustainable technological advancements.
  • Economic Impacts: Countries investing in quantum research aim to gain a competitive edge in the global economy, as quantum technologies have the potential to disrupt various industries.
PYQ: Which one of the following is the context in which the term “qubit” is mentioned? (2022)   (a) Cloud Services (b) Quantum Computing (c) Visible Light Communication Technologies (d) Wireless Communication Technologies   Ans: (b)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the recent breakthrough in laser cooling of Positronium at CERN and its implications for quantum physics. (150 words/10 m)

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