PHYSICS: Poking at Atomic Cooper Pairs

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Science  04 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5480, pp. 697a
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5480.697a

The recent observation of the onset of degeneracy in a Fermi gas, in which the atoms are cooled to such low temperatures that their associated de Broglie waves start to overlap, has opened up new opportunities in atomic and quantum physics. One prediction is that the interaction between Fermionic atoms can be tuned to form Cooper pairs, just as two electrons do in superconductors when they overcome their Coulombic repulsion and pair up. However, the expectedly small superconducting gap and the nature of the Fermionic system will require new techniques. Törma and Zoller propose using laser pulses to detect the superconducting ground state of the atomic Cooper pair and determine the extent of the pairing. Lasers would be used to tune and manipulate the coupling between the internal energy levels of the atoms, which would alter their interaction strength, and should result in a controllable and measurable phase transition between the superconducting and normal states. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 487 (2000)

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