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Australian Engineers Just Accidentally Solved a 58-Year-Old Quantum Mystery

Nuclear electromagnetic resonance was a fascinating new phenomenon that Nobel Prize-winning scientist Nicolaas Bloembergen predicted about 60 years ago. But until today, no one has been able to show it in action.

Now, due to malfunctioning equipment, actual proof of nuclear electric resonance has been accidentally found at a lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. The discovery provides researchers more control over nuclei and might significantly hasten the creation of quantum computers.

The notion of employing electrical instead of magnetic fields to manipulate individual atoms' spin lies at the heart of the phenomena. That implies managing nuclei in a more exact and miniaturized manner, which might have significant effects in a number of disciplines.

According to quantum physicist Andrea Morello of UNSW, "this discovery indicates that we now have a road to develop quantum computers utilizing single-atom spins without the requirement for any oscillating magnetic field for their functioning."

Additionally, we may employ these nuclei to find answers to basic quantum scientific puzzles or as incredibly accurate sensors of electric and magnetic forces.

Nuclear magnetic resonance, which is often utilized today for a number of reasons, including the scanning of human bodies, chemical elements, rock formations, and more, has the potential to be replaced in some circumstances by nuclear electric resonance.

The issue with the magnetic alternative is that it needs strong currents, large coils, and a lot of room; for comparison, consider how big an fMRI scanner is at your local hospital.

It's also kind of a blunt tool in certain respects. Nuclear magnetic resonance is not a very suitable instrument for the job if you wish to manipulate individual atomic nuclei, maybe for quantum computing or extremely small sensors.

Morello compares magnetic resonance to trying to move a certain ball on a pool table by lifting and shaking the entire table. The targeted ball will be moved, but we'll also move every other ball as well.

The invention of electric resonance is comparable to receiving a real pool stick to strike the ball precisely where you want it, according to one person.

The UNSW researchers solved Bloembergen's 1961 riddle during a nuclear magnetic resonance experiment, and it all came down to a damaged antenna. The researchers realized their equipment was malfunctioning and were able to demonstrate nuclear electric resonance after considerable consternation about unexpected results.

The team was able to demonstrate through later computer modeling that the electrical fields might have a fundamental impact on a nucleus, distorting the atomic bonds around the nucleus and leading it to realign itself.

Scientists may now investigate new applications for nuclear electric resonance since they are aware of how it functions. Furthermore, this discovery may be included in the increasing list of important scientific advancements that were unintentionally created.

According to Morello, "This groundbreaking breakthrough will open up a wealth of discoveries and applications." The system we developed is sophisticated enough to explore how the quantum realm gives rise to the everyday classical world that humans perceive.

"Additionally, we may leverage its quantum complexity to create electromagnetic field sensors with far higher sensitivity. And all of this is contained in a straightforward silicon-based electrical device that is managed by applying very modest voltages to a metal electrode."

The research has been published in Nature.

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