Professor Wolfgang Ketterle is a principal investigator
in the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics group in the
Research Laboratory of Electronics.
discovery is "going to bring revolutionary applications
in such fields as precision measurement and nanotechnology,"
the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
Ketterle's research activities focus on ultracold neutral
atoms at high densities. Such systems offer exciting new
possibilities: When the atoms' De Broglie wavelength is
comparable to atomic dimensions (the range of the interaction
potential), they exhibit novel collisional properties. For
interatomic separations approaching the wavelength of light,
one expects novel features in light scattering and spectroscopy.
Of particular interest are quantum statistical effects such
as spin waves and Bose-Einstein condensation. The latter
occurs when the De Broglie wavelength becomes comparable
to the interatomic spacing.
order to obtain dense samples of ultracold atoms, Dr. Ketterle's
group uses a variety of techniques: slow atomic beams, laser
cooling, spontaneous light force traps, magnetic traps and
evaporative cooling. The development of novel trapping and
cooling schemes is a major part of his research activities.
recent observation of Bose-Einstein condensation allows
him to study ultracold matter in a completely new regime.
A Bose condensate is a coherent cloud of atoms with a a
macroscopic population of the ground state of a trap. It
should show superfluidity, long-range order, and coherent
excitations of the whole cloud. Collisional and optical
properties are also different from a normal gas.
Ketterle's short-term goal is to study and understand the
properties of a Bose condensate. In longer terms, his group
plans to use coherent atoms for precision measurements and