The latest feat of atom optics, performed by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich, is the creation of a Bose-Einstein condensate of rubidium atoms in a microscopic magnetic trap built into a lithographically patterned chip. The BEC formed a few tens of microns above the surface in only 700 ms, which allowed a 10-s duty cycle that included loading the trap as well as forming and detecting the BEC. In addition, the researchers moved the condensate a distance of 1.6 mm along the microchip, after which they demonstrated the continued coherence of the BEC. Such a capability opens up possibilities for “atomtronic” applications in interferometry, holography, and quantum information processing. (W. Hänsel et al., Nature 413 , 498, 2001

https://doi.org/10.1038/35097032
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