Research on to explore superconductivity further: Nobel laureate

January 23rd, 2009 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 23 (IANS) Leading physicists are now working on projects to learn more about superconductivity by using ultracold atoms, Nobel winning physicist Wolfgang Ketterle said here Friday.Ultracold atoms are atoms that are maintained at temperatures close to zero degree kelvin (absolute zero) while superconductivity - a phenomenon occurring in certain materials generally at very low temperatures - makes it possible to measure even extremely weak magnetic fields with very high accuracy.

Ketterle, who delivered the S.N. Bose Memorial Lecture here, said research is going on far beyond the observations of S.N. Bose and Albert Einstein to learn more about superconductivity.

“We are extending the research on Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). We are trying to find out if electrons can form a BEC and become superconducting,” said Ketterle, the 51-year old scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 along with Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman for their work on BEC.

A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter of bosons confined in an external potential and cooled to temperatures very near to absolute zero. This state of matter was first predicted by Bose and Einstein in 1924-25.

Bose sent a paper to Einstein on the quantum statistics of light quanta (now called photons). Einstein translated the paper himself from English to German and submitted it for Bose to the Zeitschrift für Physik (Journal of Physics) which published it. Einstein then extended Bose’s ideas to material particles in two other papers.

After achieving Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases in 1995, Ketterle’s group in 1997 demonstrated interference between two colliding condensates as well as the first realization of an “atom laser”, the atomic analogue of an optical laser.

In addition to ongoing investigations of Bose-Einstein condensates in ultracold atoms, his more recent achievements have included the creation of a molecular Bose condensate in 2003, as well as a 2005 experiment providing evidence for “high temperature” superfluidity in a fermionic condensate.

“We are also researching on BEC on a microchip. There is potential for practical application of the research by miniaturising the BEC through a microchip,” Ketterle added.

The Nobel laureate said for success in scientific research there is a need for funding, technical infrastructure, collaborations and mentorship.

“However, physical endurance is also very important for success in science,” he said, citing the instances of work in laboratory where in a project, his junior could collect all the data at night after working since morning.

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