An exotic form of matter, in which many atoms share a single quantum-mechanical state, has been trapped in a new and useful way.

Bose–Einstein condensates are usually created in traps bounded by an electric field that varies gradually across the sample, producing a 'fuzzy' edge rather than a sharp cut-off. Now Alexander Gaunt and his team at the University of Cambridge, UK, have transferred a volume of matter created in this way to a cylindrical box with well-defined 'walls' of laser light. The technique should enable experiments on exotic matter that conform more rigorously to theoretical descriptions. It could also be adapted to make traps of different shapes, the authors say.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 200406 (2013)