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Direct Measurement of Long-Range Third-Order Coherence in Bose-Einstein Condensates

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Science  25 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6020, pp. 1046-1049
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198481

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Abstract

A major advance in understanding the behavior of light was to describe the coherence of a light source by using correlation functions that define the spatio-temporal relationship between pairs and larger groups of photons. Correlations are also a fundamental property of matter. We performed simultaneous measurement of the second- and third-order correlation functions for atoms. Atom bunching in the arrival time for pairs and triplets of thermal atoms just above the Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) temperature was observed. At lower temperatures, we demonstrated conclusively the long-range coherence of the BEC for correlation functions to third order, which supports the prediction that like coherent light, a BEC possesses long-range coherence to all orders.

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