Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Bose-Einstein Condensation Of Strontium

Date:
November 25, 2009
Source:
University of Innsbruck
Summary:
In an international first, scientists have produced a Bose-Einstein condensate of the alkaline-earth element strontium. Choosing the isotope 84Sr, which has received little attention so far, proved to be the right choice for the breakthrough. It can now be regarded as an ideal candidate for future experiments with atomic two-electron systems.

In an international first, scientists from the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Austria produced a Bose-Einstein condensate of the alkaline-earth element strontium.

In an international first, scientists from the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) produced a Bose-Einstein condensate of the alkaline-earth element strontium, thus narrowly winning an international competition. Choosing the isotope 84Sr, which has received little attention so far, proved to be the right choice for the breakthrough. It can now be regarded as an ideal candidate for future experiments with atomic two-electron systems.

This is not the first time that Prof. Rudolf Grimm and his scientific team have won a tightly contested race between scientists: in 2002, they were the first to produce a Bose-Einstein condensate of cesium atoms. Now junior scientist Dr. Florian Schreck and his team obtained the first Bose-Einstein condensate of strontium atoms, thus winning a tight international race despite having started their experiment much later than their competitors in the U.S.A.

"We backed the right horse and, towards the end, worked day and night to realize this Bose-Einstein condensate," says Dr. Schreck. For years physicists from all over the world have tried to condense atomic strontium, focusing mainly on the two strontium isotopes that are relatively abundant in nature (86Sr, 88Sr). But the breakthrough came when Dr. Schrecks' team decided to try a new, almost counterintuitive approach. "A year ago I had the idea to try it with the isotope 84Sr which has a low natural abundance," recounts Dr. Schreck concerning the moment of breakthrough. Never considered before because of its' low natural abundance, new theoretical calculations soon showed that this neglected isotope had an ideal scattering length for producing a Bose-Einstein Condensate as compared to the other, more abundant, isotopes.

Condensation of Strontium

As an initial step, strontium atoms were collected in a magnetic trap and cooled using laser cooling and trapping techniques that were refined in IQOQI. In order to isolate these atoms from undesired interactions with the environment, the experiment was performed in an ultra-high vacuum chamber. After loading the atoms into an optical trap, they were cooled to near absolute zero (- 273.15 ΊC) by evaporative cooling techniques made possible due to the excellent scattering properties of this particular isotope -- the atoms collide and thermalize without being lost due to molecule formation. This was the crucial step that was not possible with the other strontium isotopes.

In this manner, a Bose-Einstein Condensate of 150,000 atoms was produced. This new form of matter is a purely quantum phenomena where the atoms lose their individual identities and coalesce into a single, collective state. The scientists of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ΦAW) have now succeeded in doing with strontium what other scientists have done with other chemical elements. Only two weeks after the success of the Innsbruck team, a research group from the U.S. also achieved Bose-Einstein condensation of strontium atoms. Both research results are now published in the same issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

Hot Scientific Topic

Strontium belongs to the atomic two-electron systems; these are elements whose atoms have two valence electrons. Most of the atoms with one valence electron have already been successfully condensed (the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for this achievement in 2001), making Bose-Einstein condensation of two-electron systems a new hot topic in the field of physics. Although ytterbium (2003) and calcium (June 2009) were the first two-electron systems to be condensed, it is with strontium that significantly large Bose-Einstein Condensates have been produced. With Bose-Einstein condensates research in fundamental quantum mechanics can be carried out; these include developing new schemes for quantum computation, modeling condensed matter systems, and performing precision measurements of forces on the micrometer scale, which still pose many challenges to physicists today.

"The opportunities we have at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) are a crucial factor in our success," underlines Rudolf Grimm. "We had a free hand in trying something totally new and, thus, were able to enter this international race." But Dr. Schreck and his team are not stopping there. They have already started working on a new exciting direction; besides the three bosonic isotopes of strontium mentioned above, there is a fermionic isotope, 87Sr, which Dr. Schreck intends to use to produce the first ultracold Fermi gas of strontium atoms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Innsbruck. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Innsbruck. "First Bose-Einstein Condensation Of Strontium." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109121343.htm>.
University of Innsbruck. (2009, November 25). First Bose-Einstein Condensation Of Strontium. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109121343.htm
University of Innsbruck. "First Bose-Einstein Condensation Of Strontium." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109121343.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins