Engineering 101

Quantum Tool Generates Twisted Neutrons

Researchers at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) innovated a device that generates twisted neutrons with well-defined orbital angular momentum—until now considered impossible. The innovation enables the study of next-generation quantum materials development with applications ranging from quantum computing to identifying and solving new problems in fundamental physics.

The researchers had to construct new devices and create novel methods for working with neutrons. They built microscopic fork-like silicon grating structures, so minuscule that there are over six million individual fork dislocation phase gratings in an area of only 0.5 cm by 0.5 cm. When a beam of single neutrons passes through this device, the individual neutrons begin winding in a corkscrew pattern.

The team published their paper, “Experimental realization of neutron helical waves,” in Science Advances.

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