måndag 10 december 2012

Light-Matter Interaction: Nobel Prize in Physics 2012

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded Serge Haroche and David Wineland, concerns experimental investigations of light-matter or radiation-matter interaction for small (quantum) systems: ions in a harmonic trap and photons in a cavity.

There is a connection to the study of blackbody radiation on Computational Blackbody Radiation based on a mathematical model of the form W + R = E of radiation-matter interaction, including the following components:
  • wave equation for matter (W)
  • small radiative damping: outgoing radiation from matter (R)
  • excitation from incoming radiation (E).
The study brings out a basic aspect of near-resonance resulting in matter waves out-of-phase with excitation waves leading to a balance between incoming and outgoing radiation in the form of Planck's radiation law.

Of particular interest is the following information suggesting a connection to near-resonance:
  • In most experiments performed by Haroche’s group, the atom and field have slightly different frequencies. 
The basic idea of Computational Blackbody Radiation is to replace statistical quantum mechanics by deterministic wave mechanics with finite precision high-frequency cut-off.  Change of spin may then be thought of as change of phase-shift.

It remains to be seen if this idea is productive. Statistical quantum mechanics is troubled with unsolved riddles and it is not clear (to me at least) that deterministic finite-precision wave mechanics cannot model small systems. 

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