Carlo Samson (Miami University) Playing Around with the Coldest Thing in the Universe using Laser Beams

January 18, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
4138 Physics Research Building
Carlo Samson

The coldest objects in the universe are not found in outer space but on optical tables in university laboratories around the world.  Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) of alkali gases are new states of matter, having temperatures in the order of tens of nanokelvins and physical dimensions in the order of the width of human hair.  Despite its relatively macroscopic size, a BEC is a purely quantum system that exhibits a high degree of quantum coherence and superfluid behavior — properties that make them useful in studies of quantum turbulence and in inertial sensing applications.  Because of its macroscopic size, BECs are good testbeds for quantum phenomena, as its behavior and dynamics can be observed if one has a microscope and a camera, and most importantly, manipulation and control of these quantum systems can be done by magnetic and optical fields.  In this talk, I will focus on laser-based techniques that can be used for deterministic control of BECs.  First, I will discuss the “painted potentials” method in generating arbitrary and dynamic optical potentials, and its application in fast spatial transport of BECs.  Moving a trapped BEC spatially at a fast rate without excitations or loss to its coherence can be a challenge, and provides a limitation when the application demands high repetition rates.  I will discuss how painted potentials (together with novel protocols for quantum state preparation) can be used to address this limitation.  Lastly, I will discuss new optical techniques for the creation and manipulation of quantum vortices, in regard to designing controlled experiments for studies of superfluidity and quantum turbulence in BECs.

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