Georgetown Physicists Propose a Method to Create Atom Lasers in Optical Lattices

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Publishing in Physical Review Letters (editors’ suggestion), former Georgetown postdoctoral fellow Itay Hen and Prof. Marcos Rigol proposed a method to dynamically generate coherent matter waves in strongly correlated bosonic systems in optical lattices.

The invention of the first optical lasers more than half a century ago marked the beginning of our ultimate control over light, leading in turn to an unprecedented technological revolution. With the more recent realization of Bose-Einstein condensation in atomic gases, a similar degree of control over matter waves is being achieved and much effort is currently devoted to converting this new state of matter into “atom lasers”. The starting point for Hen and Rigol’s approach is an incoherent Mott insulator, for which they show that the expansion of the atoms constituting the insulator inside a suitably tuned optical lattice leads to the formation of solitonic like condensates with nonzero momenta, i.e., to a realization of an atom laser in an optical lattice. They further show that the condensate momenta can be fully controlled by the optical lattice parameters. This finding opens unique possibilities for scientific and technological applications, and possibly a new generation of matter-wave lasers.

An invited talk on this proposal was given by Prof. Marcos Rigol at the AAAS 2011 Annual Meeting in the session Matter Wave Magic and Technology.