Observation of Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Atomic Vapor

Science  14 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5221, pp. 198-201
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5221.198


A Bose-Einstein condensate was produced in a vapor of rubidium-87 atoms that was confined by magnetic fields and evaporatively cooled. The condensate fraction first appeared near a temperature of 170 nanokelvin and a number density of 2.5 x 1012 per cubic centimeter and could be preserved for more than 15 seconds. Three primary signatures of Bose-Einstein condensation were seen. (i) On top of a broad thermal velocity distribution, a narrow peak appeared that was centered at zero velocity. (ii) The fraction of the atoms that were in this low-velocity peak increased abruptly as the sample temperature was lowered. (iii) The peak exhibited a nonthermal, anisotropic velocity distribution expected of the minimum-energy quantum state of the magnetic trap in contrast to the isotropic, thermal velocity distribution observed in the broad uncondensed fraction.

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