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Title: Investigating the dynamics of a Bose Einstein condensate on an atom chip
Author: Barr, Iain
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 9101
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis I discuss work that has been carried out on the dynamics of a Bose Einstein condensate of Rb 87 produced near an atom chip. A Bose Einstein Condensate (BEC) is a quantum state of matter where a single quantum state becomes occupied by a macroscopic number of identical Bosons. In our case this is achieved by cooling a system of trapped identical rubidium 87 atoms to its ground state. To reach temperatures of condensation we initially laser cool atoms from room temperature, before loading them into a magnetic trap. The magnetic trap is produced through a combination of uniform magnetic fields from coils outside our vacuum chamber and currents running through wires on an atom chip. The atom chip is a microfabricated device, produced by a coating a silicon chip with a thin layer of gold and etching wires into it. Together, these fields create a magnetic field minimum 120μm from the surface of the chip which can be used to confine low field seeking hyperfine states of the atom in an elongated harmonic trap. Once the atoms are confined in the magnetic trap we used force evaporative cooling out to reach the phase space densities required for Bose Einstein condensation. The BEC is used to investigate the relative dynamics between the fraction of the atoms in the condensate to those not in the condensate. Our atom chip provided a suitable environment to investigate this due to fragmentation of the magnetic potential close to the chip. Small imperfections in the wires on our atom chip mean that the trapping potential isn't smooth. Small regions of higher trapping frequency - or fragments - are formed. Due to the small size of these fragments it is possible to find a position where a condensate can form in the fragment, and see a potential of high frequency, whereas a non-condensed atom will see a lower frequency potential. We exploit this to set the condensed fraction moving relative to the non condensed part and investigate the subsequent damping of their motion relative to each other.
Supervisor: Hinds, Ed Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral