University of Vermont

Office of Undergraduate Research

Superreflective Surfaces for Ultracold Matter Waves

Quantum Sticking
The sticking probability of an electron of energy E to the surface of porous silicon by the emission of a Rayleigh phonon. The surface temperature is taken to be T= 2 K. The perturbative result using Fermi's golden rule with a Franck-Condon factor S=1 is given by (green) circles, while the variational mean-field result is given by (blue) stars. The variational mean-field method gives a sharp transition at an incident energy E= 1.6 mK.

Researchers in the Department of Physics at the University of Vermont (UVM) predict that it is now possible to create surfaces that are perfectly reflecting for slow moving atoms and molecules.  

In a paper that has just been published in Physical Review Letters, Prof. Dennis Clougherty and recent Materials Science PhD graduate Yanting Zhang calculate that a quantum phase transition at low temperatures can change a sticky surface to a perfectly reflecting one.  The work has potential applications to the emerging field of atom optics, where ultracold matter waves are controlled and processed in a similar way to light waves in conventional optics.