Letter | Published:

A superheated Bose-condensed gas

Nature Physics volume 9, pages 271274 (2013) | Download Citation

This article has been updated

Abstract

Our understanding of various states of matter usually relies on the assumption of thermodynamic equilibrium. However, the transitions between different phases of matter can be strongly affected by non-equilibrium phenomena. Here we demonstrate and explain an example of non-equilibrium stalling of a continuous, second-order phase transition. We create a superheated atomic Bose gas, in which a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) persists above the equilibrium critical temperature1,2, Tc, if its coupling to the surrounding thermal bath is reduced by tuning interatomic interactions. For vanishing interactions the BEC persists in the superheated regime for a minute. However, if strong interactions are suddenly turned on, it rapidly boils away. Our observations can be understood within a two-fluid picture, treating the condensed and thermal components of the gas as separate equilibrium systems with a tunable inter-component coupling. We experimentally reconstruct a non-equilibrium phase diagram of our gas, and theoretically reproduce its main features.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Change history

  • 28 March 2013

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, in Fig. 3, the orange shading indicating the superheated region should have extended to the right-hand edge of the figure. This error has now been corrected in all versions of the Letter.

References

  1. 1.

    , , & Theory of Bose–Einstein condensation in trapped gases. Rev. Mod. Phys. 71, 463–512 (1999).

  2. 2.

    , , & Effects of interactions on the critical temperature of a trapped Bose gas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 250403 (2011).

  3. 3.

    , , & Colloquium: Nonequilibrium dynamics of closed interacting quantum systems. Rev. Mod. Phys. 83, 863–883 (2011).

  4. 4.

    , & A quantum Newton’s cradle. Nature 440, 900–903 (2006).

  5. 5.

    et al. Repulsively bound atom pairs in an optical lattice. Nature 441, 853–856 (2006).

  6. 6.

    , , , & Spontaneous symmetry breaking in a quenched ferromagnetic spinor Bose–Einstein condensate. Nature 443, 312–315 (2006).

  7. 7.

    , , , & Non-equilibrium coherence dynamics in one-dimensional Bose gases. Nature 449, 324–327 (2007).

  8. 8.

    et al. Realization of an excited, strongly correlated quantum gas phase. Science 325, 1224–1227 (2009).

  9. 9.

    et al. Long-time-scale dynamics of spin textures in a degenerate F = 1 87Rb spinor Bose gas. Phys. Rev. A 84, 063625 (2011).

  10. 10.

    et al. Light-cone-like spreading of correlations in a quantum many-body system. Nature 481, 484–487 (2012).

  11. 11.

    et al. Probing the relaxation towards equilibrium in an isolated strongly correlated one-dimensional Bose gas. Nature Phys. 8, 325–330 (2012).

  12. 12.

    et al. Preparation and spectroscopy of a metastable Mott-insulator state with attractive interactions. Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 215302 (2012).

  13. 13.

    , , , & Condensation dynamics in a quantum-quenched Bose gas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 105301 (2012).

  14. 14.

    et al. Relaxation and pre-thermalization in an isolated quantum system. Science 337, 1318–1322 (2012).

  15. 15.

    & Light cone dynamics and reverse Kibble–Zurek mechanism in two-dimensional superfluids following a quantum quench. Phys. Rev. A 81, 033605 (2010).

  16. 16.

    , & Damping of low-energy excitations of a trapped Bose–Einstein condensate at finite temperatures. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 2269–2272 (1998).

  17. 17.

    & Bose–Einstein Condensation in Dilute Gases (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).

  18. 18.

    et al. Efficient production of large 39K Bose–Einstein condensates. Phys. Rev. A 82, 063611 (2010).

  19. 19.

    et al. 39K Bose–Einstein condensate with tunable interactions. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 010403 (2007).

  20. 20.

    et al. Can a Bose gas be saturated? Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 230401 (2011).

  21. 21.

    & Effects of interactions on Bose–Einstein condensation of an atomic gas. Preprint at  (2012).

  22. 22.

    , , & Time-dependent solution of the nonlinear Schrödinger equation for Bose-condensed trapped neutral atoms.Phys. Rev. A 51, 4704–4711 (1995).

  23. 23.

    , , & Direct observation of growth and collapse of a Bose–Einstein condensate with attractive interactions. Nature 408, 692–695 (2000).

  24. 24.

    et al. Dynamics of collapsing and exploding Bose–Einstein condensates. Nature 412, 295–299 (2001).

  25. 25.

    , , & Kinetics of Bose–Einstein condensation in a trap. Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 1793–1796 (1997).

  26. 26.

    , , , & Quantum kinetic theory of condensate growth: Comparison of experiment and theory. Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 5266–5269 (1998).

  27. 27.

    , , , & Condensed fraction of an atomic Bose gas induced by critical correlations. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 190403 (2011).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank S. Beattie and S. Moulder for experimental assistance. This work was supported by EPSRC (Grant No. EP/K003615/1), the Royal Society, AFOSR, ARO and DARPA OLE.

Author information

Author notes

    • Alexander L. Gaunt
    •  & Richard J. Fletcher

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, J. J. Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK

    • Alexander L. Gaunt
    • , Richard J. Fletcher
    • , Robert P. Smith
    •  & Zoran Hadzibabic

Authors

  1. Search for Alexander L. Gaunt in:

  2. Search for Richard J. Fletcher in:

  3. Search for Robert P. Smith in:

  4. Search for Zoran Hadzibabic in:

Contributions

All authors contributed extensively to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert P. Smith.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys2587

Further reading