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A synthetic electric force acting on neutral atoms

Nature Physics volume 7, pages 531534 (2011) | Download Citation

Abstract

Electromagnetism is a simple example of a gauge theory where the underlying potentials (the vector and scalar potentials) are defined only up to a gauge choice. The vector potential generates magnetic fields through its spatial variation and electric fields through its time dependence1. Here, we report experiments in which we have produced a synthetic gauge field. The gauge field emerges only at low energy in a rubidium Bose–Einstein condensate: the neutral atoms behave as charged particles do in the presence of a homogeneous effective vector potential2. We have generated a synthetic electric field through the time dependence of an effective vector potential, a physical consequence that emerges even though the vector potential is spatially uniform.

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Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by ONR, ARO with funds from the DARPA OLE program, and the NSF through the JQI Physics Frontier Center. R.L.C. acknowledges the NIST/NRC postdoctoral program and K.J-G. thanks CONACYT.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Joint Quantum Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and University of Maryland, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20899, USA

    • Y-J. Lin
    • , R. L. Compton
    • , K. Jiménez-García
    • , W. D. Phillips
    • , J. V. Porto
    •  & I. B. Spielman
  2. Departamento de Fı´sica, Centro de Investigación y EstudiosAvanzados del InstitutoPolitécnico Nacional, México D.F. 07360, México

    • K. Jiménez-García

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Contributions

All authors contributed to writing of the manuscript. Y-J.L. led the data-taking effort, in which R.L.C. and K.J-G. participated. W.D.P. and I.B.S. conceived the experiment; I.B.S. supervised this work with consultations from J.V.P.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to I. B. Spielman.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys1954

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