Bose-Einstein condensate research

Bose-Einstein condensate research

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Credit: PASCAL GOETGHELUCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bose-Einstein condensate research. Apparatus in a physics laboratory, which uses electromagnetic spools to slow down helium atoms, allowing them to form a Bose- Einstein condensate (BEC). This is a particular state of matter that can arise at very low temperatures. Atoms are slowed and trapped using laser beams and magnets, and supercooled to a few fractions of a degree above absolute zero. At these temperatures, the atoms all have the same quantum energy state, and are indistinguishable from each other. They coalesce, behaving as if they were one single 'super atom.' Only bosonic particles, or particles with integer spin such as helium atoms, can form Bose- Einstein condensates. Photographed at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France.

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