Jun 26, 2019 | Updated: 09:24 AM EDT

Scientists Develop a Method in Determining the Shape of an Electron

May 25, 2019 10:32 PM EDT

Electron in an Atom
(Photo : Pixabay)

One of the complicated and frustrating things in the field of research focused on quantum mechanics is the spin of an electron. It serves as the smallest unit of information in a quantum computer. In fact, scientists had been having a hard time in figuring out how to control, switch, or couple the spin. Aside from these, the different spins entanglement and stability cannot be fully understood because of the lack of one of the valuable details which is electron's geometry. However, though it seems impossible at first, researchers in the University of Basel discovered for the first time the electron's geometry in an artificial atom leading to the development of quantum computer.

The research spearheaded by professors Dominik Zumbühl and Daniel Loss from the Physics Department together with the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel developed a method which can spatially determine the geometry of electrons in quantum dots, according to APS Physics

Quantum dot is a trap that allows the confinement of electrons in a region which is 1000 times larger than a natural atom. The electron in it is held by an electric field. Given that the electron trapped behaves like an electron, quantum dot is addressed as an artificial atom. Moreover, the trapped electron can move within space with different probabilities consequent to a wave function and remains in specific area.

In order to determine the energy levels in the quantum dot and the behavior of each level in magnetic field at varying orientation and strength scientist used spectroscopic method. The result showed that the electron's density and its corresponding wave function can be determined precisely on a sub-nanometer level.

"To put it simply, we can use this method to show what an electron looks like for the first time," said Loss.

It is expected that the electron's geometry and spin should be stable as long as possible and switchable for its future use as a qubit. A better understanding between the two matter was made possible by the researchers along with their colleagues in Slovakia, Japan, and in US.

Furthermore, one of the important factors is the electron's spatial orientation which play a vital role not only in terms of entanglement of several spins but also in the binding of two atoms to a molecule.

"We are able not only map the shape and orientation of the electron, but also control the wave function according to the configuration of the applied electric fields. This give us the opportunity to optimize control of the spins in a very targeted manner," explained Zumbühl.

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