NC State University

Physics Department

our lab at NCSU

Atom Cooling and Trapping

Our primary research is in the area of atom cooling and trapping. The central feature of our program is the study of strongly interacting Fermi gases near a Feshbach resonance, using all-optical methods to achieve quantum degeneracy. Our experiments employ an optical trap consisting of a single focused beam from a high-power ultrastable CO2 laser. Atoms are attracted to the highest intensity region near the focal point, where a potential well is formed. By employing an ultrahigh vacuum, trap lifetimes of 400 seconds are achieved. Forced evaporation in the optical trap is used to achieve quantum degeneracy.

The all-optical approach is ideally suited to exploring atomic gases with magnetically tunable interactions, as used in our experiments. Thus we can produce a Fermi gas with an interaction strength which can be tuned from zero to very strongly attractive or repulsive, creating the most strongly interacting, nonrelativistic system known.

Surprisingly, this strongly interacting atomic gas shares similarities to many other system in nature, such as high-temperature superconductors, neutron stars, and the quark-gluon plasma of the Big Bang, which has been reproduced in heavy ion collisions. Our research program strives to make precise and model-independent measurements to aid in the theoretical understanding of these systems.

The poster for the first workshop on ultracold Fermi gases

[Read more about media highlights about our research]