An international team of physicists have successfully created a “giant atom” and filled it with ordinary atoms, creating a new state of matter termed “Rydberg polarons”. These atoms are held together by a weak bond and is created at very cold temperatures. It uses ideas from two different fields: Bose Einstein Condensation and Rydberg atoms.
A ‘Rydberg atom’ is an atom in which an electron has been kicked out to a very large orbit. These have interesting properties and have been studied for a long time. A BEC (Bose Einstein Condensate) is a liquid-like state of matter that occurs at very low temperatures. A BEC can be perturbed to create excitations which are akin to ripples on a lake. Here, the authors have used a BEC of strontium atoms.
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