Collisions in a thermal gas are perceived as random or incoherent as a consequence of the large numbers of initial and final quantum states accessible to the system. In a quantum gas, for example, a Bose–Einstein condensate or a degenerate Fermi gas, the phase space accessible to low-energy collisions is so restricted that collisions become coherent and reversible. Here, we report the observation of coherent spin-changing collisions in a gas of spin-1 bosons. Starting with condensates occupying two spin states, a condensate in the third spin state is coherently and reversibly created by atomic collisions. The observed dynamics are analogous to Josephson oscillations in weakly connected superconductors and represent a type of matter–wave four-wave mixing. The spin-dependent scattering length is determined from these oscillations to be −1.45(32) bohr. Finally, we demonstrate coherent control of the evolution of the system by applying differential phase shifts to the spin states using magnetic fields.
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This work was supported by NSF-PHYS 0303013 and NASA-NAG3-2893. We would like to thank C. D. Hamley, K. M. Fortier, J. A. Sauer and other members of the Georgia Tech Atomic Physics and Quantum Optics Group for their assistance, and H. Pu for valuable discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Chang, MS., Qin, Q., Zhang, W. et al. Coherent spinor dynamics in a spin-1 Bose condensate. Nature Phys 1, 111–116 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys153
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