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2.5M Euro Vacuum Fridge to Leiden Physics Institute

Tjerk Oosterkamp is awarded an NWO Large Grant of 2.5 million euro to build a machine that offers an environment with ultra-high vacuum and very low temperatures, only one thousandth of a degree above absolute zero. This will provide many research groups with the opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research under unprecedented conditions. The facility will be unique in the world and its future place in the low-vibration lab at the new Leiden science campus gives it even larger capabilities.

On the level of the quantum world at room temperature, particles swarm and vibrate wildly. Physicists learn about this miniature world by very precisely studying a small sample plate containing ‘entangled’ particles. Surely they are unhappy with the chaotic situation at room temperature that quickly destroys the very fragile entwined state that they want their particles to be in. Just imagine gluing a broken pot back together in a hurricane. And without a proper vacuum, the sample plate will get contaminated immediately by unwanted atoms on the sample surface. So add a dust storm to the hurricane scenario.

Quantum physicists need extremely low temperatures and an ultra-high vacuum to perform their research. Only then, their sample will stay clean and its particles stay entangled. Oosterkamp’s new machine will offer exactly that. In just over a year, physicists can come to Leiden to:

- Investigate unexplored quantum effects at ultra-low temperatures
- Explore new measurement methods to detect phenomena of intertwined electrons in materials that are said to ‘quantum compute all by themselves’
- Explore the infamous quantum measurement problem in the context of systems containing highly entangles particles

The 2.5 million euro vacuum fridge offers its state-of-the-art environment to a variety of instruments: scanning gates, scanning tunneling microscopes, atomic force microscopes and magnetic resonance force microscopes.
A schematic drawing of the system, featuring a dilution refrigerator which offers space for up to four scanning probe microscopes at the coldest plate at the bottom (10 mK with nuclear demag possibilities to <1 mK) as well as a UHV preparation chamber. The three frames (supporting cryostat, pulse tubes and the vacuum system) have been omitted in this drawing.

Erik Arends
Physics Outreach Officer
arends [at] physics.leidenuniv.nl
+31 (0)71 527 5471
Twitter: @LeidenPhysics

Publ. 11-02-2016 17:49
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