‘Stuck’ quantum matter waves prove theory

Friday, 7 October 2011

by Estelle Asmodelle

Anderson localisationDisorder can greatly affect how waves travel, sometimes even causing them to stop in their tracks. A lone trumpeter on stage has no trouble projecting to the entire audience, since the sound waves from his horn travel freely in every direction. If a small amount of disorder is added, such as balloons, the sound waves can still fill the room, but if too many balloons surround the trumpeter, the reflected waves will perfectly cancel everywhere, and the music is ‘localised’ at the trumpet – lost in the forest.

Credit: L. Brian Stauffer of student Aaron Romm from the University of Illinois School of Music

GOSFORD: New insight into how waves spread in different kinds of artificial materials could shed light on how disorder affects quantum materials such as superconductors.

Since waves are used in all kinds of applications, from medical imaging to electronics, the physics behind disorder is fundamental to the understanding of how imperfections in the materials that compose these technologies affect wave behaviour.

“While disorder and imperfections are impossible to avoid in materials, there is much we do not understand about how disorder affects their properties,” said co-author Brian DeMarco from the University of Illinois in the U.S., of the paper published in Science today.

Read full news item here.