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Top Story

Dressing atoms in an ultracold soup

Using lasers, U.S. and Austrian physicists have coaxed ultracold strontium atoms into complex structures unlike any previously seen in nature. Experimental physicists and theoretical physicists teamed on the two-year project to create "Rydberg polarons" out of strontium atoms that were at least 1 million times colder than deep space. The new molecules are only stable at extraordinarily cold temperatures -- about a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. At such low temperatures, the constituent atoms stay still long enough to become "glued together" in new, complex structures. The discovery will be of interest to theoretical chemists, condensed matter physicists, atomic physicists and physicists who are studying Rydberg atoms for potential use in quantum computers.

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