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Hypersonic Bose–Einstein condensates in accelerator rings


Some of the most sensitive and precise measurements—for example, of inertia1, gravity2 and rotation3—are based on matter-wave interferometry with free-falling atomic clouds. To achieve very high sensitivities, the interrogation time has to be very long, and consequently the experimental apparatus needs to be very tall (in some cases reaching ten or even one hundred metres) or the experiments must be performed in microgravity in space4,5,6,7. Cancelling gravitational acceleration (for example, in atomtronic circuits8,9 and matter-wave guides10) is expected to result in compact devices with extended interrogation times and therefore increased sensitivity. Here we demonstrate smooth and controllable matter-wave guides by transporting Bose–Einstein condensates (BECs) over macroscopic distances. We use a neutral-atom accelerator ring to bring BECs to very high speeds (16 times their sound velocity) and transport them in a magnetic matter-wave guide for 15 centimetres while fully preserving their internal coherence. The resulting high angular momentum of more than 40,000ħ per atom (where ħ is the reduced Planck constant) gives access to the higher Landau levels of quantum Hall states, and the hypersonic velocities achieved, combined with our ability to control potentials with picokelvin precision, will facilitate the study of superfluidity and give rise to tunnelling and a large range of transport regimes of ultracold atoms11,12,13. Coherent matter-wave guides are expected to enable interaction times of several seconds in highly compact devices and lead to portable guided-atom interferometers for applications such as inertial navigation and gravity mapping.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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This work is supported by the project HELLAS-CH (MIS 5002735), which is implemented under the Action for Strengthening Research and Innovation Infrastructures, funded by the Operational Programme 'Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation' (NSRF 2014-2020) and co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund). G.V. received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement 750017. S.P. and G.D. acknowledge financial support from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat and Technology (GSRT), under the HFRI PhD Fellowship grants 4823 and 4794.

Author information

W.v.K. conceived the ideas for the experiments. S.P., H.M. and W.v.K. carried out the experiments, data analysis and theoretical work. S.P., H.M., K.P., V.B., G.D. and W.v.K. built the experiment. All authors contributed to the discussion of the results and writing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Wolf von Klitzing.

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Fig. 1: Absorption images of ultracold thermal clouds and BECs in ring-shaped matter-wave guides.
Fig. 2: Accelerating BECs.
Fig. 3: Long-distance transport in the accelerator ring.


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