Quantum gas mixtures and dual-species atom interferometry in space

authored by
Ethan R. Elliott, David C. Aveline, Nicholas P. Bigelow, Patrick Boegel, Sofia Botsi, Eric Charron, José P. D’Incao, Peter Engels, Timothé Estrampes, Naceur Gaaloul, James R. Kellogg, James M. Kohel, Norman E. Lay, Nathan Lundblad, Matthias Meister, Maren E. Mossman, Gabriel Müller, Holger Müller, Kamal Oudrhiri, Leah E. Phillips, Annie Pichery, Ernst M. Rasel, Charles A. Sackett, Matteo Sbroscia, Wolfgang P. Schleich, Robert J. Thompson, Jason R. Williams

The capability to reach ultracold atomic temperatures in compact instruments has recently been extended into space 1,2. Ultracold temperatures amplify quantum effects, whereas free fall allows further cooling and longer interactions time with gravity—the final force without a quantum description. On Earth, these devices have produced macroscopic quantum phenomena such as Bose–Einstein condensates (BECs), superfluidity, and strongly interacting quantum gases 3. Terrestrial quantum sensors interfering the superposition of two ultracold atomic isotopes have tested the universality of free fall (UFF), a core tenet of Einstein’s classical gravitational theory, at the 10−12 level 4. In space, cooling the elements needed to explore the rich physics of strong interactions or perform quantum tests of the UFF has remained elusive. Here, using upgraded hardware of the multiuser Cold Atom Lab (CAL) instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS), we report, to our knowledge, the first simultaneous production of a dual-species BEC in space (formed from 87Rb and 41K), observation of interspecies interactions, as well as the production of 39K ultracold gases. Operating a single laser at a ‘magic wavelength’ at which Rabi rates of simultaneously applied Bragg pulses are equal, we have further achieved the first spaceborne demonstration of simultaneous atom interferometry with two atomic species (87Rb and 41K). These results are an important step towards quantum tests of UFF in space and will allow scientists to investigate aspects of few-body physics, quantum chemistry and fundamental physics in new regimes without the perturbing asymmetry of gravity.

Institute of Quantum Optics
External Organisation(s)
California Institute of Caltech (Caltech)
University of Rochester
Ulm University
Universite Paris-Sud
Carson College of Business
Bates College
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
University of San Diego
University of California at Berkeley
University of Virginia
Texas A and M University
University of Colorado Boulder
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Publication date
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Peer reviewed
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Electronic version(s)
https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2306.15223 (Access: Open)
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06645-w (Access: Closed)