Monday, September 10, 2007

TIFR scientists create Bose-Einstein Condensate

Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai-India have created Bose-Einstein Condensate for the first-time in India. Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) is referred to as the 5th state of matter and was first proposed by India scientist Satyendranath Bose and later worked on by Albert Einstein in 1925. The irony of this latest creation in someway is that although it was proposed by an Indian scientist, it took about 82years to be practically demonstrated in India. Scientists Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman from the University of Colorado at Boulder NIST created the BEC for the first time in 1995 and were awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 2001 with scientist of MIT.

But this great achievement in India is no mean task. Very few researchers from around the world have been able to create it. The Phd. students Saptarishi Chaudhury (my first name rocks!!) and Sanjunkta Roy along with Prof. CS Unnikrishnan were involved in this development and we should congratulate them that Satyendranath Bose's soul would be very proud of them today. Some of their initial research papers are as old as 2005 and shows the amount of hard work they have done to achieve this extraordinary feat.
Check out their personal homepages (by clicking on their names above) for their personal research and resumes. Their team page is here

From their earlier abstract on MOT:

Design, construction and characterization of a source of intense, cold and tunable neutral atomic beam will be discussed. These atoms are then captured and further cooled in a high-density Magneto-Optical trap (MOT), making the system a favourable starting point for production of Bose-Einstein condensate in an all optical dipole trap. In this talk we shall present the general principles and experimental techniques to trap and cool tens of billions of atoms to micro-Kelvin temperature using appropriate laser light and magnetic field. At these ultra-low temperatures, several routes to precision experiments using neutral atoms open up. For example, novel experiments to study quantum electrodynamics of atoms strongly coupled to cavities are possible and atom-surface and atom-cavity interactions can be studied in a near ideal condition. As a specific example, we shall discuss behaviour of cold atoms moving through a high-finesse cavity. Quantum degeneracy and atomic Bose-Einstein condensates are produced starting from a cloud of ultra-cold atoms in a MOT. These cold atoms can also be trapped in a micro-optical lattice, making it possible to do quantum measurements on single atom. This talk is meant to be a general introduction to the topic of Laser Cooling and Trapping of Neutral Atoms along with a brief description of a state-of-the-art experimental set-up built here facilitating high precision experiments.

The scientists used lasers to cool atoms of Rubidium to temperature nearing absolute zero to create the BEC. The result is a superconductive material which in the future may be applied to fields of nanotechnology. Read here, the press release given to Press Trust Of India

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