Neutrons between two plates in the earth's gravitational field can occupy different quantum states. A vibrating plate can excite them from one state into the other - which allows extremely accurate energy measurements.
Quantum mechanical methods can now be used to study gravity. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), a measurement method was developed, which allows to test the fundamental theories of physics.
The world's most precise measurement methods are based on quantum physics. Atomic clocks or high-resolution magnetic resonance, which is used in medicine, rely on accurate measurements of quantum leaps: а particle excited at exactly the right frequency changes its quantum state - this is called "resonance spectroscopy". Up until now, this method has only been used employing electromagnetic radiation. Researchers at TU Vienna have now developed a resonance method, which for the first time does not use electromagnetism, but the force of gravity. Gravity creates several possible quantum states for neutrons. The Gravity Resonance Method now allows to induce and accurately measure transitions between these states. The results of these experiments have now been published in the scientific journal Nature Physics.
At first glance, gravity and quantum physics do not appear to have much in common. We can feel gravity, when huge, heavy objects, such as stars or planets are involved. Quantum particles on the other hand are so light that gravity usually does not play a major role in describing them. The new method now links those two areas - now, the theory of gravity can be probed at minute distances. This way, scientists hope to gain insight into string theory or the nature of dark matter. So far, gravity research was limited to macroscopic or even astronomical distances. For decades, physicists have been struggling to unify gravitation and quantum physics, creating a unified theory of everything. Different string theories have been developed, predicting the existence of hidden spatial dimensions, which have not yet been discovered. "Using our neutron method, we will try to test such theories in the laboratory", professor Hartmut Abele announces. Even for cosmology, these experiments may play an important role. Theories about the mysterious "dark matter", which is considered to govern the motion of galaxies, could now be investigated on tiny scales with high-precision measurements. "Our method, which is specially designed for minute length scales, could - if we are lucky - help us understand the evolution of the universe itself. In any case, thrilling new insights in gravity research are awaiting us", says professor Abele.
Give the summary of the text using the words below:to occupy different quantum states; to induce and accurately measure transitions; to have much in common; to link two areas; to gain insight into string theory or the nature of dark matter; to be limited to macroscopic or even astronomical distances; to unify gravitation and quantum physics; to govern the motion of galaxies; to be designed for minute length scales.
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