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Posted: May 6, 2008
EUROCORES conference gives cold quantum matter a European twist
(Nanowerk News) Quantum matter has long fascinated the science community as many completely new physical phenomena have emerged from this field. Cold quantum matter can be used for applications such as high-precision clocks, which may run only one second behind per three million years! The interest in quantum matter is now spreading to other areas, and new phases of matter are emerging in molecular systems and plasmas.
This was the topic of the recent EuroQUAM inauguration conference, held in Barcelona from the April 7-9, 2008, which was the first major scientific event of the EuroQUAM ("Cold Quantum Matter") programme developed within the European Collaborative Research Scheme (EUROCORES) of the European Science Foundation (ESF). Members of all six EuroQUAM consortia representing ten European countries as well as invited speakers from Australia, Canada and the US gathered to discuss their newest results and further the field of cold quantum matter.
Quantum matter is composed of atoms or molecules in a single quantum state that behave coherently as a single quantum object. It typically exists at temperatures less than one millionth of a degree above absolute zero, with absolute zero being -273.15 on the Celsius scale. A prominent form of quantum matter, Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), was predicted by Bose and Einstein in 1924 and created in an atomic gas in 1995. In the years since then, there have been enormous advances in the ability to produce and manipulate quantum matter, which were recognized by the awarding of several Nobel Prizes in physics.
"The conference had a representative participation of the leading European groups in the field, plus highly distinguished overseas visitors”, said Prof. Jürgen Eschner of ICFO (Institute of Photonic Sciences, Barcelona), the main organizer of the meeting. “We enjoyed very high quality presentations of cutting-edge results. Thanks to efficient and generous support from the European Science Foundation (ESF), the conference was a great success" continued Eschner.
In the long term, quantum matter is expected to have applications in diverse areas ranging from high-precision measurement to quantum information. This field is complex and draws on atomic and optical physics, chemical physics and physical chemistry, plasma physics, statistical physics, solid-state physics and quantum chemistry. Although the field is driven by fast advances in experimental capabilities, theoretical work is essential to guide experiments and explain their results.
The aim of the EuroQUAM programme is to provide a platform for scientific exchange between scientists from different disciplines and countries and in particular to stimulate collaborations between experiment and theory. “The conference provided an excellent blend between senior and junior researchers, all of them full of enthusiasm and joy of presenting hot and "shining" scientific results of the highest level”, summarized Prof. Maciej Lewenstein, ICFO group leader and member of the local organizing committee. “This all shows the high quality of research in this area of physics in Europe and its great perspectives for the future”.
The aim of the European Collaborative Research (EUROCORES) Scheme is to enable researchers in different European countries to develop collaboration and scientific synergy in areas where European scale and scope are required to reach the critical mass necessary for top class science in a global context. The scheme provides a flexible framework which allows national basic research funding and performing organisations to join forces to support excellent European research in and across all scientific areas.