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Sep 8, 2022

Opinion: Physicists can now use lasers to move atoms in previously untested ways

Posted by in category: particle physics

The defining feature of a Bose-Einstein condensate is that its atoms behave very differently from what we normally expect. Instead of acting as independent particles, they all have the same (very low) energy and are coordinated with each other.

This is similar to the difference between photons (light particles) coming from the Sun, which may have many different wavelengths (energies) and oscillate independently, and those in laser beams, which all have the same wavelength and oscillate together.

In this new state of matter, the atoms act much more like a single, wave-like structure than a group of individual particles. Researchers have demonstrated wave-like interference patterns between two different Bose-Einstein condensates and even produce moving “BEC droplets.” The latter can be considered the atomic equivalent of a laser beam.

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