Research NewsPhysics

Atom Laser Shows That It Is Worthy of the Name

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Science  13 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5353, pp. 986-987
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5353.986a

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Alexander Hellemans In a conventional laser, a process called stimulated emission acts to rapidly build up a powerful, coherent beam, but some have questioned whether this actually happens in the "atom laser," which was demonstrated for the first time last year. Now the atom laser team makes good on its claim. On page 1005, the researchers report evidence that the "light" in the atom laser--atoms held in a quantum state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate--forms through a process analogous to stimulated emission, as atoms already in the condensate help coax additional atoms into quantum lockstep.