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First BEC observed in Illinois!

DeMarco graph

We've had a hot and dry summer in the midwest. The cold front that moved in recently and brought some rain also lowered the temperature just enough for us to make Illinois' first atomic Bose-Einstein condensate. I am pleased to tell you that after much hard work by graduate students Matt White and Matt Pasienski, post-doc Hong Gao, and myself, that today around 6 pm we took our first pictures of a 87Rb BEC at UIUC.

The picture above shows a sequence of absorption images (at progressively lower temperature) taken after 26 ms of free expansion. The sequence starts a little above Tc and ends with a pure condensate. We hit Tc in the |2,2> state with about 300,000 atoms at 150 nK.