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Bose-Einstein Condensation in Microgravity

Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1540-1543
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189164

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Abstract

Albert Einstein’s insight that it is impossible to distinguish a local experiment in a “freely falling elevator” from one in free space led to the development of the theory of general relativity. The wave nature of matter manifests itself in a striking way in Bose-Einstein condensates, where millions of atoms lose their identity and can be described by a single macroscopic wave function. We combine these two topics and report the preparation and observation of a Bose-Einstein condensate during free fall in a 146-meter-tall evacuated drop tower. During the expansion over 1 second, the atoms form a giant coherent matter wave that is delocalized on a millimeter scale, which represents a promising source for matter-wave interferometry to test the universality of free fall with quantum matter.

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