ultracold atoms

06/19/2012 - 13:44

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers have observed for the first time the Hall effect in a gas of ultracold atoms. The Hall effect is an important interaction of magnetic fields and electric current more commonly associated with metals and semiconductors. Variations on the Hall effect are used throughout engineering and physics with applications ranging from automobile ignition systems to fundamental measures of electricity. The new discovery could help scientists learn more about the physics of quantum phenomena such as superfluidity and the quantum Hall effect.

03/10/2012 - 12:26

Just as NASA engineers test new rocket designs in computer studies before committing themselves to full prototypes, so physicists will often model matter under various circumstances to see whether something new appears. This is especially true of atomtronics, a relatively new science devoted to creating artificial tailored materials consisting of neutral atoms held in an array with laser beams, or atoms moving along a desired track under electric or magnetic influence. A new study shows how a simple “joystick” consisting of an adjustable magnetic field can create several new phases of atomtronic matter, several of them never seen before.