It might not sound like something extraordinary, as it resembles everything a civilian knows. Still, electric resonance is a huge step forward that will have an immense impact on physics and medicine.
The physicists at the University of South Wales in Australia were just playing.
Out of scientific curiosity, with no further purpose in mind, they wanted to perform nuclear magnetic resonance on an atom of antimony. The antimony atom has a massive nuclear spin. During their experiment, they realized they were performing not magnetic resonance, but electric resonance.
The scientists fabricated a device that included an antimony atom and an antenna. The antenna’s purpose was to create a high-frequency magnetic field to control the nucleus of the atom. The scientist blew up the antenna by applying too much power to it. The experiment didn’t stop as it was expected, due to the dimension of the antimony nucleus. The antenna was still working only it started generating an electric field instead of a magnetic field.
Scientists Performed Electric Resonance by Accident
“We now have a pathway to building quantum computers using single-atom spins. We can use these nuclei as exquisitely precise sensors of electric and magnetic fields, or to answer fundamental questions in quantum science. The whole field of nuclear electric resonance has been almost dormant for more than half a century, after the first attempts to demonstrate it proved too challenging.” said Andrea Morello, UNSW’s Scientia Professor of Quantum Engineering.
Back in 1961, the Nobel Laureate Nicolaas Bloembergen indicated that nuclear spin could be controlled with electric fields. Sixty years later, he was proved right by accident. During the six decades, physicists tried to find a way to demonstrate Bloembergen’s suggestion, but they didn’t even come close to it.
Electric resonance will complete the job magnetic resonance has done so far in domains such as physics and medicine, but with unbelievable accuracy. Unlike magnetic resonance, electric resonance can be applied to tiny objects. As small as atoms.