Dr. Amruta is an ex-student of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. She graduated with Physics in 2009 and topped the Mumbai University in Physics. She then did her masters at the University of Pune and then acquired PhD from Nottingham University in UK. She also worked at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.
Dr Amruta Gadge from the Quantum Systems and Devices Laboratory successfully created a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) – considered to be the fifth state of matter – using quantum technology based at the University of Sussex facilities despite working remotely from her living room two miles away.
When the UK government announced the national lockdown on the 23 March 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic, the labs at the University of Sussex were forced to close their doors but the Quantum Systems and Devices group were determined to keep their experiments running. This was no easy feat with large intricate and complex laser and optics set-ups in state-of-the-art labs which couldn’t just be transported home.
From the middle of her living room, she made a breakthrough that proved an Einstein-Bose prediction. This could mean experiments can be run in inaccessible places such as space or underground. The five states of matter are Solids, Liquids, Gases, Plasma and BEC.
A BEC consists of a cloud of hundreds of thousands of atoms cooled down to nano kelvin temperatures which is more than a billion times colder than freezing.
At this point the atoms take on a different property and behave all together as a single quantum object. This quantum object has special properties which enables it to sense very low magnetic fields.
Without being able to set foot in the labs, bar a few essential maintenance visits, the only way to continue working on their experiments was for the research team to access the labs using dedicated remote control and monitoring technology.
With teaching already online and lockdown imminent, the team rapidly made preparations to work from home. In the days leading up to lockdown, equipment, chairs, and computers were being ferried to various homes, deliveries were diverted and protocols for the remote access and online control were put in place. It was a massive team effort.
Just in time before lockdown, the researchers set-up a 2D magnetic optical trap and have returned only a couple of times to carry out essential maintenance. Dr Gadge, working on Rubidium atoms, was then able to make the complex calculations, optimising and running the sequence from her home by accessing the lab computers remotely.
To achieve this, the team had to develop various monitoring systems to keep track of every important parameter such as laser parameters, vacuum pressure, electric currents and temperatures. The degree of automation and monitoring achieved made it possible to run the complex sequence of various cooling stages remotely from home to reach temperatures leading to a BEC.
Researchers claim that, enhancing the capabilities of remote lab control is relevant for research applications aimed at operating quantum technology in inaccessible environments such as space, underground, in a submarine, or in extreme climates.