Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Today's talk on Matter Wave Optics

Today we had lunch with, and then attended a talk by, Markus Oberthaler from Heidelberg.

Oberthaler's group is doing very interesting work in BEC dynamics. Today's talk discussed, among other things, dynamics of BECs in shallow and deep periodic potentials, as well as tunneling of a BEC trapped in a double well potential (see cond-mat/0411757). I particularly liked the analogy of the wavefunction in a well to a pendulum with a length dependent on the angular momentum. The double well was created by superimposing a harmonic and periodic potential. Double wells seem quite popular lately, and are also a focus of research by Bill Phillips' group at NIST.

The phenomenon that Oberthaler discussed in connection with the deep potential well was "nonlinear self-trapping," where a wavepacket expands initially, but then stops.

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