By Rebecca Blatt
The University of Maryland has received a $10 million federal stimulus grant for a new lab, where studies of the smallest particles could lead to big breakthroughs.
The lab is for quantum scientists, who study the behavior of individual atoms. The hope is that knowing how to work with such small particles will allow scientists to make more sensitive sensors and more powerful computers.
But Steven Rolson, a Maryland physics professor, says when you're studying individual atoms, the smallest variations, vibrations or temperature changes can interfere.
"One of the standard ways you solve problems of vibrations is you wait until everyone goes home," he says. "So you do your best measurements at two in the morning. You can do that. But it's not the most efficient use of your poor graduate students."
The grant will fund a new 21,000 square-foot underground lab that will accommodate work at all hours of the day and night.