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Quantum liquid droplets in a mixture of Bose-Einstein condensates

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Science  14 Dec 2017:
eaao5686
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5686

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Abstract

Quantum droplets are small clusters of atoms self-bound by the balance of attractive and repulsive forces. Here we report on the observation of droplets solely stabilized by contact interactions in a mixture of two Bose-Einstein condensates. We demonstrate that they are several orders of magnitude more dilute than liquid helium by directly measuring their size and density via in situ imaging. We show that the droplets are stablized against collapse by quantum fluctuations and that they require a minimum atom number to be stable. Below that number, quantum pressure drives a liquid-to-gas transition that we map out as a function of interaction strength. These ultra-dilute isotropic liquids remain weakly interacting and constitute an ideal platform to benchmark quantum many-body theories.

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