One of the most striking features of Bose-Einstein condensâtes is their long-range phase coherence. This proposed research will study the evolution of phase coherence during the growth of an 87Rb condensate from a thermal vapour. It is both a theoretical and experimental challenge to understand the physical process by which long-range coherence is established and our results will test the current theoretical ideas. Two techniques will be used to probe the coherence properties of Bose-Einstein condensâtes: Bragg spectroscopy and matter-wave interferometry. The first goal of the project will be to develop these techniques by applying them to measurements of the coherence lengths of highly elongated (quasi-1-dimensional) Bose- Einstein condensâtes, which exhibit strong phase fluctuations. The second goal is to use these techniques to study the coherence length as a function of time as a condensate grows from a non-equilibrium thermal cloud.
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