Dzhanibekov- or Tennis racket effect is what happens when an object with three diferent moments of inertia doesnt spin around the axis with highest or lowest moment of inertia. The object starts to wobble and flips around, stabilizes for a moment, flips back and repeats. If it doesnt sound exciting then watch the linked video on wiki. Or see this Phys.SE post & links therein.

Now, atoms aren't exactly rotating ellipsoids, but they do have a spin and I remember calculating some precessions on the Bloch Sphere, which got me thinking that maybe the same effect occurs in quantum mechanics, probably under a different name.

Does it exist, at least in theory?
If so - can it be actually observed?
And if yes - are there applications of it?

  • $\begingroup$ Many heavier nuclei have deformed ground states, but very few have triaxial deformation; I don't think the flip has been observed but I'm not current with the literature. I believe if this had been observed in nuclei the community at large would have heard of it. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Jul 9 '17 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Spin being quantized, I don't see how we can have unstable or stable axes of rotation for it. $\endgroup$ – Abhijeet Melkani Jul 10 '17 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ This is a chaotic system. Quantum chaos is a branch of physics which studies how chaotic classical dynamical systems can be described in terms of quantum theory. $\endgroup$ – Keith McClary Jul 10 '17 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ This paper sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/… (which doesn't seem to be behind a paywall) mentions possible applications to quantum system in the conclusion. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Jul 15 '17 at 15:27

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