The sound of single atom was recorded for the first time ever by scientists in Sweden, a soft sound imperceptible to the naked human ear.
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology detailed their study on Thursday in the latest issue of the journal Science
, and they say that, so far, it's the softest sound that can be physically recorded in the entire universe.
"According to the theory, the sound from the atom is divided into quantum particles," said Martin Gustafsson, the article's first author. "Such a particle is the weakest sound that can be detected."
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that the scientists went about recording the sound by exciting the atom, then converting its acoustic vibrations into microwaves – which are of a large enough amplitude to be recorded. The note is a D28, 20 octaves above the highest note on a grand piano.
"We have opened a new door into the quantum world by talking and listening to atoms," Per Delsing, head of the experimental research group, said in a press release
about the study. "Our long term goal is to harness quantum physics so that we can benefit from its laws, for example in extremely fast computers. We do this by making electrical circuits which obey quantum laws, that we can control and study."
Quantum phenomena is usually measured with photons, which are quantized packets of light, but capturing for the first time a phonon – quantized sound – opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for scientists because sound is much slower-moving, and thus easier to observe.
"Due to the slow speed of sound, we will have time to control the quantum particles while they travel" said Gustafsson. "This is difficult to achieve with light, which moves 100,000 times more quickly."
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