PerspectivePhysics

Arrival of the Fermion Superfluid

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Science  20 Aug 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5687, pp. 1114-1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.1102682

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Summary

Ever since the discovery of Bose-Einstein condensation in an atomic Bose gas in 1995, physicists have been searching for its analog, the fermion superfluid in atomic Fermi gases. Fermion superfluids are expected to exhibit quantum phenomena on the macroscopic scale, just as Bose-Einstein condensates do. Making use of a process called Feshbach resonance, which allows the interaction between atoms to be increased strongly, several groups have recently reported evidence on fermion superfluids. In his Perspective, Ho highlights the report by Chin et al., who have directly observed a pairing gap, a key property of a fermion superfluid. Their interpretation is strongly supported by the theoretical calculation of Kinnunen et al. Ho argues that the evidence accumulated so far provides an overwhelming case for the realization of fermion superfluids.