Visions 16: Bose-Einstein condensates
Ultra-cold groups of atoms that act as single wave-like entities offer a new path into the quantum world
A decade ago, physicists created a new kind of atomic matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC).
The phenomenon is not only providing new insights into quantum theory – which underpins our understanding of the Universe at the microscopic level – but also opens the door to a host of applications such as atom lasers, improved atomic clocks and quantum computers.
Quantum theory is a mathematical framework which describes the wave-like behaviour of atoms (as well as photons of light).
Eighty years ago, Albert Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose predicted that a cloud of identical atoms would reveal their quantum character in an unusual way.
Visions 16: Bose-Einstein condensates (PDF, 346 KB)