UCSB researchers John Mantis, Andrew Cleland, and Aaron O’Connell last week demonstrated that the theory of quantum mechanics, the set of scientific principles that describes the behavior of energy and matter on an atomic level, is applicable to the mechanical motion of macroscopic objects. During a successful experiment that’s received worldwide attention, the team first cooled a mechanical resonator to as close to total “stillness” as possible, then added a single unit of quantum energy to the device, causing a piece of material in it to move as theoretically predicted. Using this process of turning mechanical motion into electrical energy, the discovery was described by one of the researchers as a stepping stone in the development of a quantum computer.
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