(Phys.org) Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a method for making an ion (electrically charged atom) display exact quantities of quantum-level motion—any specific amount up to 100 packets of energy or “quanta,” more than five times the previous record high of 17.
In addition to creating single numbers of quanta, the NIST team controlled the pendulumlike motion of their ion to simultaneously exhibit two different amounts of motional quantas uch a “superposition” of two states is a hallmark of the curious quantum world.
The new methods could be used with any quantum mechanical oscillator, including systems that oscillate like a simple pendulum or vibrate like a spring. The techniques could lead to new types of quantum simulators and sensors using phontons as the carriers of information.

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