Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Gas: The First 70 Years and Some Recent Experiments
Eric A. Cornell, C E. Wieman
Bose-Einstein condensation of dilute gases offer rich field study fundamental quantum-mechanical processes, manipulation of the speed at which light propagates, observation of atomic pair-formation and superfluidity, or even simulating white dwarf stars. Still more radical applications are on the horizon. However, their initial creation was a masterpiece of experimental physics. After an initial process of laser cooling (which itself won its developers the 1997 Nobel Prize), atoms in a magnetic optical trap must be safely transferred into a purely magnetic trap, where the condensation process begins at 170 nK and by 20 nK a pure condensate of 2000 atoms could be created. More astonishingly, Wieman and Cornell showed these low temperatures could be achieved in bench scale equipment rather than the massive pieces normally demanded by cryoscience. For their 1995 discovery of this new stte of matter, they were awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics.
atomic physics, Bose-Einstein condensation, magnetic traps