Now, in results reported in Physical Review Letters, H. Maeda (Japan Science and Technology Agency, Tokyo), J. H. Gurian, and T. F. Gallagher (University of Virginia) have beautifully demonstrated in the laboratory a solution to this problem of the spreading atomic electron wave packet using a trick that was discovered in astronomy long before the problem arose in quantum theory . When a small satellite moves in a sun-earth system there are five stable points at which the satellite remains fixed with respect to the rotating sun-earth system (Fig. 1). These are the famous Lagrange L points. In 1994 Bialynicki-Birula et al. showed that stable Lagrange points could be produced in the atomic electron problem by applying a circularly polarized microwave field rotating in synchrony with an electron wave packet in a highly excited state (a so-called Rydberg atom) . The electron wave packet then remains localized near the Lagrange point while circling the nucleus indefinitely. Effectively the atom is made to behave quite classically.
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