Quantum phase of Bose-Einstein condensates
The quantum phase of a Bose-Einstein condensate has long been a subject fraught with misunderstanding and confusion. In this thesis we provide a consis- tent description of this phenomenon and, in particular, discuss how phase may be defined, created, manipulated, and controlled. We begin by describing how it is possible to set up a reference condensate against which the phase of other condensates can be compared. This allows us to think of relative phases as if they were absolute and gives a clear and precise definition to 'the phase of a condensate'. A relative phase may also be established by coupling condensates and we show how this can be controlled. We then extend this model to explain how the phase along a chain of coupled condensates can lock naturally without the need for any measurements. The second part of the thesis deals primarily with the link between entangle- ment and phase. We show that, in general, the more entangled a state is, the better its phase resolution. This leads us to consider schemes by which maximally entangled states may be able to be created since these should give the best prac- tical advantages over their classical counterparts. We consider two such states: a number correlated pair of condensates and a Schrodinger cat state. Both schemes are shown to be remarkably robust to loss. A comparison of the merits of these two states, as the inputs to an interferom- eter, reveals very different behaviours. In particular, the number correlated state performs significantly better than the cat state in the presence of loss, which means that it might be useful in interferometry and frequency standard schemes where phase resolution is of the utmost importance. Finally, we propose a scheme for concentrating the entanglement between con- densates, which is an important step in quantum communication protocols. This, along with the ability to manipulate phase and entanglement, suggests that the future for condensates holds not only academic interest but great potential for practical applications.