Where Random Fluctuations Meet the Road
“Dartmouth researchers have discovered a potentially important piece of the quantum/classical puzzle – learning how the rules of physics in the quantum world (think smaller than microscopic) change when applied to the classical world (think every day items, like cars and trees).
In a study published in the July 1 issue of the journal Nature, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alex Rimberg and his colleagues describe one example of the microscopic quantum world influencing, even dominating they say, the behavior of something in the macroscopic classical world. They used tiny semiconducting crystals that contain two separate reservoirs of electrons to explore the different influences of both classical and quantum physics.
‘We found that the motion of the crystals is not dominated by something classical like thermal motion, but instead by random quantum fluctuations in the number of electrons tunneling through the barrier; the fluctuations were the size of about 10,000 electrons,’ says Rimberg. ‘But the macroscopic world in this study also influences the quantum world, in that the vibrations of the crystal caused the electrons to tunnel in big bunches, more or less in sync with the vibrations of the crystal.'”