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Credit: Urvoy et al.
Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Center for ultracold atoms and research laboratory of electronics have proposed a new method for producing 3-D Bose-Einstein condensates using laser cooling only. In their study, featured in Physical Review Letters, they demonstrated the efficacy of their technique in producing Bose-Einstein condensates, achieving temperatures that are well bellow the effective recoil temperature.
Physics - Research - Bose-Einstein - Condensation - BEC
In past physics research, Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) by direct laser cooling was an often pursued, yet highly elusive goal. It was first attempted by Steven Chu, who won the Nobel Prize for laser cooling, and around 1995 by Mark Kasevich, who did not succeed at the time. Other groups led by Carl Wieman and Eric Cornell, and by Wolfgang Ketterle, all Nobel Prize laureates for BEC, succeeded in achieving BEC using evaporative cooling instead. Eventually, most researchers gave up on trying to produce BEC using laser cooling alone, up until this ground-breaking new study.
"A few years ago, I had an idea of how to reduce the main obstacle to laser cooling of atoms, the light-induced formation of molecules from atoms, by using specific laser frequencies," Vladan Vuletić, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Phys.org. "Compared to cooling through evaporation, laser cooling had the potential to be faster and more efficient, resulting in reduced constraints for the experimental setup."
Laser - Atoms - Entails - Set - Lasers
Laser cooling atoms entails carefully positioning a set of lasers and tuning them to slow down the motion of the atoms by kicking them with photons. This technique is commonly used to create cold clouds of atoms, but using it to create samples of cold atoms with a high enough density for BEC had so far proved very challenging. A key reason for this is that laser light can photoassociate neighboring atoms into molecules, which then leave the atom trap.
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