For the first time, scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute have used laser light to create "synthetic magnetism," an exotic condition in which neutral atoms suddenly begin to behave exactly like charged particles in a magnetic field -- except that there is no field, and the atoms aren't charged.

The achievement will enable an entire range of experiments that were previously impossible, and will provide unprecedented insight into the physics of condensed-matter systems.

The Joint Quantum Institute is a research partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland, with support and participation of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences.

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