NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bose-Einstein Condensate: a new state of matter. Graph of the density of low-velocity rubidium atoms forming a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). The blue and white peak shows the BEC, a cloud of a few thousand atoms some 10 microns (millionths of a metre) across. A cloud of rubidium atoms was confined by a laser trap system, then cooled to 180 nK (nanoKelvin, billionths of a degree above absolute zero). At this temperature, atoms move so slowly that the quantum wave function for each one 'spreads out' until all the atoms are in the same quantum state. This first BEC was created at the NIST and University of Colorado on 5 June 1995.
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