Scientists show ‘Rydberg polarons’ can be created by increasing path of electrons at temperatures approaching absolute zero.
A new state of matter invented by “giant atoms” filled with other, normal atoms, have been discovered in experiments. Called Rydberg polarons, they can be formed if an electron can be encouraged to path the nucleus of an atom at a distance, it leaves a considerable space that can be full with something else.
Atoms in this state are called Rydberg atoms. “The average distance between the electron and its nucleus can be as huge as several hundred nanometers – that is too much a thousand times the radius of a hydrogen atom”, said Professor Joachim Burgdorfer, a physicist at TU Vienna and one of the study’s co-authors.
The “something else” in the case of a Rydberg polaron is another atom, or more correctly hundreds of other atoms. Professor Burgdorfer and his classmates created a Bose-Einstein condensate – a state of mater in which atoms are cooled almost to absolute zero – from atoms of strontium. At this unbelievably cold temperature, the scientists transferred energy to one of the strontium atoms using a laser – turning it into a Rydberg atom with a huge atomic radius. The track of the electron was so huge in their new atom that it comprehended other surrounding atoms in the condensate. Depending on the size of the new path they had created and the density at which the atoms were packed in their condensate, the investigators found that close to 200 additional strontium atoms could be encompassed by the electrons in the newly created Rydberg polarons. The atoms contained within the Rydberg atom’s path do not influence its electrons path to a great extent, as they do not transfer any electric charge.