Letters to Nature

Nature 413, 498-501 (4 October 2001) | doi:10.1038/35097032; Received 27 July 2001; Accepted 11 September 2001

Bose–Einstein condensation on a microelectronic chip

W. Hänsel, P. Hommelhoff, T. W. Hänsch & J. Reichel

  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik and Sektion Physik der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Schellingstr. 4, D-80799 München, Germany

Correspondence to: J. Reichel Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to J.R. (e-mail: jakob.reichel@physik.uni-muenchen.de).

Although Bose–Einstein condensates1, 2, 3 of ultracold atoms have been experimentally realizable for several years, their formation and manipulation still impose considerable technical challenges. An all-optical technique4 that enables faster production of Bose–Einstein condensates was recently reported. Here we demonstrate that the formation of a condensate can be greatly simplified using a microscopic magnetic trap on a chip5. We achieve Bose–Einstein condensation inside the single vapour cell of a magneto-optical trap in as little as 700 ms—more than a factor of ten faster than typical experiments, and a factor of three faster than the all-optical technique4. A coherent matter wave is emitted normal to the chip surface when the trapped atoms are released into free fall; alternatively, we couple the condensate into an 'atomic conveyor belt'6, which is used to transport the condensed cloud non-destructively over a macroscopic distance parallel to the chip surface. The possibility of manipulating laser-like coherent matter waves with such an integrated atom-optical system holds promise for applications in interferometry, holography, microscopy, atom lithography and quantum information processing7.