NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Laser trap used to make a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). Laser beams (red) enter the central glass container filled with rubidium atoms as vapour. The large dipole magnets (green, white arrows show field direction) and the smaller quadrupole magnets (blue) help confine the atoms. The laser beams are also used to cool the atoms by slowing them down. At about 180 nanoKelvin (billionths of a degree absolute), the quantum waves of each of the atoms spreads out and combines with others, forming a single quantum cloud. This first BEC was created at the NIST and the University of Colorado on 5 June 1995.
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