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In conjunction with the University of Melbourne:

A Bose Condensate in an Optical Lattice: cold atomic gases meet solid state physics

Prof. William Phillips

National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, USA

Thursday 2nd February 2006, 11.00PM, Seminar Room AR103, Graduate Research Centre.

An atomic-gas Bose-Einstein Condensate, placed in the periodic light-shift potential of an optical standing wave, exhibits many features that are similar to the familiar problem of electrons moving in the periodic potential of a solid-state crystal lattice. Differences include the distance scale of the lattice (100s of nanometers compared to a few Ångstroms) and the fact that the BEC represents a wavefunction whose coherence extends over the entire lattice, with what is essentially a single quasi momentum. Recent experiments at NIST-Gaithersburg explore the behavior of a BEC in an optical lattice and interpret the sometimes surprising results using traditional band theory.

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