Lab Canada

Creation of super atom a Canadian first

Toronto, ON October 16, 2003 A team of York University scientists has achieved what they say is an important scientific first for Canada with the creation of a Bose-Einstein condensate super atom. A condensate is a unique form of matter consisting of a dense cloud of cooled atoms that acts as a single, super atom-like entity.

The creation was achieved by physics post-doctoral researcher Dr Baolong Lu and Professor William van Wijngaarden.

“Our ability to create a super atom provides a significant new tool to examine fundamental physics,” says Dr van Wijngaarden. He adds that potential applications may eventually include the development of nano-circuits for smaller and faster computer processors and the next generation of atomic clocks.

This represents the realisation of a theory that has intrigued scientists since being proposed by physicists Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose more than 70 years ago. In a lab setting, atoms of gas will scatter throughout the container in which they are held and move at varying speeds from high to low. Expanding on Bose’s work, Einstein showed that if a sample of atoms was cooled sufficiently, a large number of atoms would settle into the single lowest possible energy state in the container to form a single “super atom” or condensate.