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Two-Component Bose-Einstein Condensation

TitleTwo-Component Bose-Einstein Condensation
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsMatthews, MR

Bose-Einstein condensates in dilute atomic gases have been around for almost 5 years now. The first experiments dealt with density related properties of the condensate – things like internal energy, collective excitations, and density profiles. All of these aspects are well described by a non-linear Schrodinger equation, in which the non-linearity arises from repulsive potentials between 87Rb atoms that make up the condensate. While interesting in their own right, these experiments had little to do with the “strangeness” of a condensate as a macroscopic
quantum object.

In this work the new era of condensate physics is described. These are experiments mainly concerned with the quantum phase and coherence properties. We have constructed a robust system for creating internal-state superpositions, with the ability to image the interference between them. Our first observations show how condensates, initially created with a well-defined phase, remain coherent, unlike a sample of thermal atoms. We have devised schemes to spatially manipulate the relative phase between two condensates in unique ways which brings about very unexpected behavior. By choosing a very specific scheme we were able to create a vortex state and measure the unique 2π phase winding, making this a very simple system for utilizing quantum control.