Synthetic Partial Waves in Ultracold Atomic Collisions

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  08 Dec 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1212652


Interactions between particles can be strongly altered by their environment. We demonstrate a technique for modifying interactions between ultracold atoms by dressing the bare atomic states with light, creating an effective interaction of vastly increased range that scatters states of finite relative angular momentum at collision energies where only s-wave scattering would normally be expected. We collided two optically dressed neutral atomic Bose-Einstein condensates with equal, and opposite, momenta and observed that the usual s-wave distribution of scattered atoms was altered by the appearance of d- and g-wave contributions. This technique is expected to enable quantum simulation of exotic systems, including those predicted to support Majorana fermions.