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Using High Frictional Forces to Improve the Accuracy of High-Precision Experiments

A new analysis has shown that atoms will face high frictional forces in the existence of blackbody radiation at lower temperatures.

The blackbody radiation curve. Image Credit: Wikipedia.

Understanding this effect could assist scientists in enhancing the precision of high-precision experiments.

Blackbody radiation (BBR) consists of electromagnetic waves with characteristic spectra, which alters the shape based on the body’s temperature. When moving atoms experience such fields, they undergo a repulsive force that decelerates their movement toward the radiation source.

By adopting new analysis reported in EPJ D, Vipul Badhan and collaborators at Guru Nanak Dev University, India, display that the impact of this “blackbody friction force” (BBFF) is especially powerful at lower temperatures.

The BBFF’s impact could turn especially powerful in high-accuracy experiments involving nuclei and atoms. This ranges from atomic clocks and interferometers to quantum sensors and gravitometers.

Also, it is anticipated to impact the behaviors of atoms in the remnants of supernovae and could even affect the advanced methods that have been utilized to probe a few of the most basic aspects of the universe, including gravitational waves and dark matter.

A better knowledge of BBFF could be vital to guarantee the best possible precision in such significant experiments.

Atoms have the potential to face BBFF in the existence of stray electromagnetic fields that have been produced by experimental setups, and also the materials used to shield experiments from their environment.

For this effect to be explored, Badhan’s group considered the deceleration of alkali atoms: metals that have the potential to readily polarize in reaction to encircling electromagnetic fields as a result of their special electron configurations.

By taking this behavior into account, the scientists were able to evaluate a relationship between the temperature of an object generating BBR, and the rate of slowdown undergone by encircling alkali atoms.

Their outcomes displayed that this slowdown is most severely impacted by BBFF at lower temperatures. By accounting for this effect, the research team with Badhan believes that advanced experiments could help enhance their precision much further. This possibly brings us another step toward answering a few of the most urgent questions regarding the universe’s nature.

Journal Reference

Badhan, V., et al. (2022) Assessing slowdown times due to blackbody friction forces for high-precision experiments. The European Physical Journal D.


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