Cold quantum gases and Bose–Einstein condensation

Robert Seiringer

in Quantum Theory from Small to Large Scales

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652495
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741203 | DOI:

Series: Lecture Notes of the Les Houches Summer School

Cold quantum gases and Bose–Einstein condensation

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Bose–Einstein condensation (BEC) in cold atomic gases was first achieved experimentally in 1995. Since then there has been a surge of activity in this field, with ingenious experiments putting forth more and more astonishing results about the behaviour of matter at very cold temperatures. The theoretical investigation of BEC goes back much further, and even predates the modern formulation of quantum mechanics. It was investigated in two papers by Einstein in 1924 and 1925, respectively, following up on a work by Bose on the derivation of Planck's radiation law. Einstein's result, in its modern formulation, can be found in any textbook on quantum statistical mechanics, and was concerned with ideal, i.e., non-interacting gases. The understanding of BEC in the presence of interparticle interactions poses a formidable challenge to mathematical physics. Some progress has been made in the last ten years or so, and the purpose of this chapter is to explain part of what was achieved and how it is related to the actual experiments on cold gases.

Keywords: Bose–Einstein condensation; interacting Bose gas; continuous symmetry breaking; mean field theory

Chapter.  16257 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

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