When an atom is bombarded with just enough energy to fully ionize it, how do the electrons and nucleus break apart from each other? Experimentalists are now able to study such a four-body breakup by bombarding a helium atom with an electron.
A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) can dramatically collapse and explode when the interactions between the atoms are sufficiently strong and attractive. Now, scientists have imaged the anisotropic, clover-leaf shape of such a collapsing gas when the attractive atomic interactions are strongly dipolar.
Results from string theory, generalizing the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence, may offer a fresh set of mathematical tools for understanding some kinds of phase transitions that occur in cold atomic systems.
The atoms in highly excited vibrational states of a diatomic molecule can be quite far apart near their maximum excursion. Physicists are now using laser spectroscopy to carefully measure the long-range effective interaction between potassium atoms in these states—an essential parameter to understanding ultracold atomic collisions.
Phys. Rev. Focus21, 11 (2008) – Published April 2, 2008
In the 1970s and 80s, researchers developed techniques for cooling atoms to very low temperatures using laser light. The work led to improvements in atomic clocks and the observation of a new ultracold state of matter.
Phys. Rev. Focus21, 9 (2008) – Published March 11, 2008
Researchers demonstrated an atom slowing and trapping scheme that may apply to elements that have been difficult or impossible to cool before. The atoms need only an unpaired electron, not a special set of internal states.
Phys. Rev. Focus18, 20 (2006) – Published December 29, 2006
Researchers cooled large dye molecules to one-tenth of a degree Kelvin–the coldest temperature ever for large molecules. The technique could work with protein molecules and allow a new level of precision spectroscopy.