Shining a light on the quantum world

Monday, July 27, 2020 - 16:30 in Physics & Chemistry

In the universe, there is the world we can see with the naked eye: trees, planes in the sky, dishes in the sink. But there are other worlds that reveal themselves with the help of a magnifying glass, telescope, or microscope. With these, we can see up into the universe or down into the smallest particles that make it up. The smallest of these is a world populated by particles smaller than an atom: the quantum world.  Physicists who probe this world study how these subatomic particles interact with one another, often in ways not predicted by behavior at the atomic or molecular level. One such physicist is Nicholas Rivera, who studies light-matter interactions at the quantum level. Unfinished business In the quantum world, light is two things: both a wave and a small particle called a photon. “I was always fascinated with light, especially the quantum nature of light,” says Rivera, a...

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