Zero-point fluctuations in Josephson junctions - implications for dark energy

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Mathematical Sciences

Abstract

Quantum fluctuations mean that the vacuum is not empty as it is assumed in classical physics. These fluctuations, also known as zero-point fluctuations, produce measurable effects in superconducting electronic devices (Josephson junctions). The energy of zero-point fluctuations, also called vacuum energy, could be responsible for the dark energy of the universe, a mysterious type of energy that is currently dominating the universe. If this is the case, one expects to see a cutoff at high frequencies in the measured frequency spectrum of current noise in Josephson junctions. Currently an experiment to test this hypothesis is being designed in the US and the first experimental data are expected soon. The research project is to develop a mathematical theory of high frequency noise in Josephson junctions, to predict possible spectra and cutoffs, and to compare the theoretical predictions with future experimental data, in close collaboration with the experimentalists.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Beck C (2007) Measurability of vacuum fluctuations and dark energy in Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications

publication icon
BECK C (2011) TESTING AXION PHYSICS IN A JOSEPHSON JUNCTION ENVIRONMENT in Modern Physics Letters A

publication icon
BECK C (2008) ELECTROMAGNETIC DARK ENERGY in International Journal of Modern Physics D

publication icon
BECK C (2007) ZEROPOINT FLUCTUATIONS AND DARK ENERGY IN JOSEPHSON JUNCTIONS in Fluctuation and Noise Letters

publication icon
Beck C (2015) Axion mass estimates from resonant Josephson junctions in Physics of the Dark Universe

publication icon
Beck C (2012) Axion physics in a Josephson junction environment in Physica C: Superconductivity

 
Description The theory of quantum noise in Josephson junctions, and its possible
relationship with suggested methods to measure dark energy in a
laboratory experiment, was significantly
advanced by this project. Novel results were published on the general problem of
measurability of vacuum fluctuations and dark energy.

Also, a new concept was theoretically developed, that of gravitationally
active and non-active quantum fluctuations. This led to the concept of so-called
'Electromagnetic dark energy'. Most recently,
the concept was further developed, leading to the suggestion to use Josephson junctions as detectors for axionic dark matter.
Exploitation Route The findings can be used to develop novel types of detectors for dark energy and dark matter detection, assuming certain types of interactions that only occur in superconducting environments with a weak link.
Sectors Other

 
Description The findings have inspired new experiments based on Josephson junctions. Most recently (2012/13), it was recognized that Josephson junctions could potentially serve not only as detectors for dark energy (in terms of quantum noise phenomena) but also for dark matter (a special type of dark matter, axionic dark matter).
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Other
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Media interest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Gave a summary on Josephson junctions as possible detectors
for axionic dark matter suitable for a general audience (results of my Phys. Rev.Lett. in 2013)

Lots of interest in other media/newspapers as well (Dec 2013)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Media interest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Articles about my work appeared in New Scientist (April 2007, also Dec 2013), Cosmos magazine (August 2007), El Pais (March 2008)

Commented on Josephson junctions as possible detectors for dark energy (modification of the quantum noise spectrum)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2013
 
Description media interest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interview given to the Guardian on axionic dark matter, press release on 16 Oct 2014.

Further interviews given to other newspapers, e.g. 'Die Zeit' (Germany)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014