PerspectivePhysics

Cold-Atom Magnetism

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1297-1298
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239873

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Summary

How do you cool something that is already the coldest stuff in the universe? That is the challenge facing physicists who are trying to use extremely dilute ultracold atomic gases to model condensed matter systems. Cold gases hold promise for simulating a variety of many-body problems, but progress has been limited by the inability to reach sufficiently low temperatures. On page 1307 of this issue, Greif et al. (1) show that by dynamically manipulating the atom-trapping potential, a gas of ultracold potassium atoms could be cooled enough to observe magnetic correlations that arise only at sufficiently low temperatures. These results mark an important step toward realizing quantum magnetism with cold atoms, an achievement that could lead to a better understanding of a range of interesting states of matter.