Bose-Einstein Condensates: The Coldest Matter in the Universe

10/11/2001 4:15 PM 10-250
Wolfgang Ketterle, Professor of Physics

Description: What happens when a gas is cooled to absolute zero? A new door to the quantum world opens up because all the atoms start "marching in lockstep", forming one giant matter wave the Bose-Einstein condensate. This was predicted by Einstein in 1925, but only realized in 1995 in laboratories at JILA in Boulder and at MIT. Since then, many properties of this mysterious form of matter have been revealed, including matter wave amplification and quantized vortices. Bose condensates have been used to realize a basic atom laser, an intense source of coherent matter waves.


About the Speaker(s): Wolfgang Ketterle's group at last count nearly two dozen manipulates and observes atomic phenomena at ultracold temperatures. Ketterle received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Munich in 1986. After postdoctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, the University of Heidelberg and at MIT, he joined the physics faculty at MIT in 1993.

Ketterle was one of three scientists jointly awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for "the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates". In addition to the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics (with E.A. Cornell and C.E. Wieman), he has received a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship (1996), the Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society (1997), the Gustav-Hertz Prize of the German Physical Society (1997), the Discover Magazine Award for Technological Innovation (1998), the Fritz London Prize in Low Temperature Physics (1999), the Dannie-Heineman Prize of the Academy of Sciences, G_ttingen, Germany (1999), the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics (2000).


Host(s): School of Science, Department of Physics

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MIT World -- special events and lectures

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