Physics of Quantum Gases

Kazimierz Rzążewski 

Polish Academy of Sciences, Center for Theoretical Physics (CFT PAN), al. Lotników 32/46, Warszawa 02-668, Poland


This year has been declared the World Year of Physics. We are commemorating seminal papers written by Albert Einstein in 1905. Nearly 20 years later he strikes again. He discovers (following preliminary results by Indian physicist Satyendranath Bose) a new type of the phase transition, the one entirely due to the indistinguishability of atomic particles. This phase transition, known today as the Bose-Einstein condensation, according to the Organizing Committee of this Conference deserves to be a subject of yet another lecture celebrating the Year of Physics.

A weakly interacting, nearly ideal gas composed of bosons exhibits quantum features when cooled to nanokelvin temperatures. At a critical temperature it spontaneously collapses to the lowest energy state of the potential well holding the gas. Amazing advances in the techniques of cooling and trapping of neutral atoms made it possible to achieve this phase transition in 1995. The Nobel Prize for Eric Cornell, Karl Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle quickly followed in 2001. Today dozens of laboratories all over the world perform experiments with quantum degenerate dilute gases and the whole area is a prime example of the emerging "quantum engineering".

Remaining at the level of presentation of a popular lecture I will explain the concept of Bose-Einstein phase transition. I will tell how to cool the system to such low temperatures, first using lasers and then using a method that resembles cooling a morning coffee in your mug. Finally, I will also review some recent experiments with the condensate.


Presentation: invited oral at E-MRS Fall Meeting 2005, Plenary session, by Kazimierz Rzążewski
See On-line Journal of E-MRS Fall Meeting 2005

Submitted: 2005-05-12 07:43
Revised:   2009-06-07 00:44