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Feb 28, 2017 09:03 AM EST

Princeton University Researchers Discover How To Make An Atom Mimic Another Atom's Light

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Princeton University researchers find way to make an atom mimic another's light
Princeton University researchers find way to make an atom mimic another's light
(Photo : Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

Researchers from Princeton University were able to find a way to have an atom mimic the light emissions of another atom. This can help several scientists in a variety of fields.

Light from atoms can be measured when their electrons move between energy levels to identify the presence of an element, Phys.org reported. An example would be astronomers who can detect the presence of argon in a star by recognizing the unique signature of light that it emits.

Princeton University researchers discovered that, in specific instances, atoms can be manipulated to impersonate other atoms. They were able to do this by controlling the light that was fired at a given atom to cause it to emit the signature of another atom.

One instance would be when they caused an argon atom to emit the same light wavelength as a hydrogen atom by manipulating the pulse of laser light that was fired at the former atom. This technique can also be used to modify the quantum state of the target atom.

While the technique of using light to make atoms react to certain things is not new, the use of light to control an atom's state can be utilized for new applications. One way to use this is to have molecules emit different colors to make it easier to identify them in biological processes.

The Princeton University researchers published their study in the journal "Physical Review Letters." It is entitled "How to Make Distinct Dynamical Systems Appear Spectrally Identical" by Andre G. Campos, Denys I. Bondar, Renan Cabrera, and Herschel A. Rabitz.

The scientists began their study by creating a model that demonstrated how a single pulse of light can cause any one of several atomic states and changing it in a specific way to change the wavelength of light that it produced. The researchers used the Schrödinger equation to calculate which pulse shape would result to the desired wavelength.

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