As the capsule was falling to the ground for four seconds in the drop tower, the researchers generated the BEC on the atom chip, initially by remote control: strong magnetic fields and lasers hold the particles on the chip and cool them. At a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, the temperature at minus 273.16 degrees Celsius, the particles have lost almost all of their energy and assume a new physical state: all atoms are now in the quantum mechanical ground state so that they can no longer be distinguished as individual particles in the quantum gas.
An atom chip - the fast path to ultra-cold quantum gas
"They behave completely coherently, practically like a heap of atoms that assumes the properties of a single huge atom," says Tilo Steinmetz, who was involved in the experiment as a researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. Since the laws of quantum mechanics say that every particle can also be considered to be a wave, it is possible to describe what is happening in a different way: A wave packet of matter forms in which the atoms no longer stay at fixed locations - they are delocalized. This grouping is maintained until an energetic push, however small, mixes it up.
"We generate a BEC in less than a second on our atom chip. With conventional laboratory apparatus, this takes up to one minute," says Tilo Steinmetz. In addition, an experiment o
|Contact: Dr. Tilo Steinmetz|