For those who don’t know, Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs), are basically superatoms which are formed through a collection of particles that can work together to behave like a single atom.
The existence of BEC’s was first predicted by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in the mid-1920’s even though it took almost 70 years to find a way of proving their theory.
Even after all that time, the proof of these superatoms could only be achieved by freezing out collections of particular particles with temperatures close to absolute zero.
As you can guess, this was an expensive process that took a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, within just two years of this discovery, room temperature BEC’s were also created in laboratory conditions.
Despite the awe and wonder that the BEC’s inspired, they were always just a showpiece, as noone really cared enough to find a way of making them useful.
But in recent years, researchers have been trying to find ways of making these superatoms useful, one of which is the composition of exciton polaritons.
These weirdly named quasiparticles are the result of an amalgamation of photons and electron-hole pairs (excitons), built to carry information in the form of optical polarization as well as spin.
Still, even with this ability, these polaritons are highly impractical as their spin can only be controlled by the use of either light or strong magnetic fields.
Thankfully, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge has just found a way to instead use low-energy voltage pulses to read and write data in a BEC.
This has been made possible by creating polaritons that are trapped in several thin layers of semiconductor material. The plan is to combine a large number of polaritons, so they can form a stable Bose-Einstein condensate.
This steady state of the BEC is achieved by continuously irradiating it with a pump laser that counteracts the natural losses of the system.
The polariton BEC is then further squeezed between two metallic contacts, and exposed to a tiny voltage pulse in order to change the spin state of the condensate.
By doing so, the BEC starts responding in unison, assuming one of the two spin states, up or down. In a way, it starts operating like a memory cell, while the information is kept in the spin state.
The purpose behind doing all this is to create new kinds of optical circuits, which will incorporate these BEC’s as a bridge between the voltage-controlled pure electronics and optical devices.
The devices created as a result will hopefully be not only a lot more energy efficient, but will also be able to amplify and maintain the clarity of the optical signal.
If everything works out as planned, we will one day be able to make optical computing work on a large scale with complex designs.