Cold Atom Method

When atoms are cooled to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, they take on quantum properties. Lasers are used to arrange the atoms, hold them in place, run computations on them, and read out the results. Quantum calculations, communications, and sensing are the result.

Pioneering Minds

In the July 14, 1995 issue of Science Magazine, researchers from JILA reported achieving a temperature far lower than had ever been produced before and creating an entirely new state of matter predicted decades ago by Albert Einstein and Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. Cooling rubidium atoms to less than 170 billionths of a degree above absolute zero caused the individual atoms to condense into a “superatom” behaving as a single entity.

The graphic shows three-dimensional successive snap shots in time in which the atoms condensed from less dense red, yellow and green areas into very dense blue to white areas. Dr. Eric Cornell and Dr. Carl Wieman won a Nobel Prize for creating the first BEC in a collaboration between CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). JILA is jointly operated by NIST and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Their colleague, Dr. Dana Anderson, co-founded ColdQuanta, which is using the fifth form of matter as the foundation for its Cold Atom Quantum Technology.