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Fundamental physics for metrology


The new institute “Fundamental physics for metrology” was founded at PTB in this year. It studies new developments in physics which may be important for metrology in the future. Within the institute three different research directions were established:

Atomic physics for metrology: here the institute participates in the development of new methods to describe the structure of multi-electron atoms and their interaction with electromagnetic radiation. This research will contribute to tests of the standard model of elementary particles and their interactions at low energies, in particular it will contribute to ever more precise atomic or nuclear clocks. This will enable ultrahigh precision atomic time and length standards. The investigations are done in close collaboration with the institute “QUEST” at PTB which studies atomic spectra experimentally.

Atomtronics for metrology: this research direction targets metrological applications of condensed quantum gases. Such gases promise a rich set of metrological applications in all areas of physics, e.g. in atomtronics, which is an alternative to electronics for special applications. Using specialized computer codes it is investigated how standard electronic devices (resistance, inductance, or capacitance) may be implemented within atomtronics. Moreover the institute specifically studies analogs of e.g. Josephson junctions.

Magnetic phase transitions and spintronics: phase transitions provide important definitions of metrological scales e.g. temperature. The institute investigates characteristics of quantum and topological phase transitions in spin systems, which distinguish themselves significantly from classical phase transitions. For this purpose large scale computer simulations are developed. Experimentally such systems are realized in solid state systems as well as optical lattices filled with quantum gases.

Besides the various research activities the institute supports experimental groups within PTB to solve challenging theoretical problems. Furthermore it advises on new research direction in metrology.