Critical Behavior of a Trapped Interacting Bose Gas

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Science  16 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5818, pp. 1556-1558
DOI: 10.1126/science.1138807

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The phase transition of Bose-Einstein condensation was studied in the critical regime, where fluctuations extend far beyond the length scale of thermal de Broglie waves. We used matter-wave interference to measure the correlation length of these critical fluctuations as a function of temperature. Observations of the diverging behavior of the correlation length above the critical temperature enabled us to determine the critical exponent of the correlation length for a trapped, weakly interacting Bose gas to be ν = 0.67 ± 0.13. This measurement has direct implications for the understanding of second-order phase transitions.

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