Letter

Collective emission of matter-wave jets from driven Bose–Einstein condensates

Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

Scattering is used to probe matter and its interactions in all areas of physics. In ultracold atomic gases, control over pairwise interactions enables us to investigate scattering in quantum many-body systems1. Previous experiments on colliding Bose–Einstein condensates have revealed matter–wave interference2,3, haloes of scattered atoms4,5, four-wave mixing6,7 and correlations between counter-propagating pairs8,9,10. However, a regime with strong stimulation of spontaneous collisions11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20 analogous to superradiance21,22,23 has proved elusive. In this regime, the collisions rapidly produce highly correlated states with macroscopic population. Here we find that runaway stimulated collisions in Bose–Einstein condensates with periodically modulated interaction strength cause the collective emission of matter-wave jets that resemble fireworks. Jets appear only above a threshold modulation amplitude and their correlations are invariant even when the number of ejected atoms grows exponentially. Hence, we show that the structures and atom occupancies of the jets stem from the quantum fluctuations of the condensate. Our findings demonstrate the conditions required for runaway stimulated collisions and reveal the quantum nature of matter-wave emission.

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Acknowledgements

We thank E. Berg for discussions. L.W.C. is supported by the Grainger graduate fellowship. A.G. acknowledges support from a MRSEC-funded Kadanoff-Rice fellowship. This work is supported by the University of Chicago Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1420709), NSF grant PHY-1511696, and the Army Research Office-Multidisciplinary Research Initiative under grant W911NF-14-1-0003.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. James Franck Institute, Enrico Fermi Institute and Department of Physics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

    • Logan W. Clark
    • , Anita Gaj
    • , Lei Feng
    •  & Cheng Chin

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Contributions

All authors contributed extensively to the work presented in this paper. L.W.C. and A.G. conceived and performed the experiments. L.W.C. analysed the data and developed the theory. L.W.C. and A.G. wrote the manuscript. L.F. contributed insights and discussions on the experiment and manuscript. C.C. supervised the project.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cheng Chin.

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