Scientific research goals

Since the discovery of Bose-Einstein Condensation of atomic gases in 1995, the field of quantum degenerate quantum gases has grown at a breakneck pace. Recently it has become possible to shrink systems for carrying out such experiments to the point where micro or nano-fabrication techniques can be used do construct the necessary buliding blocks. These building blocks consist of lithographically deposited wires to create electric and magnetic fields and optical components to couple laser light to the atoms.

The atom chips network seeks to bring together several partners to promote cooperation between the european groups working in this area. In addition to our scientific research goals (see below), our network plans to emphasize the possibilities for simplification and cost reduction that atomchips can bring to the study of ultracold gases. The miniaturization made possible by microfabrication leads naturally to highly confining atom trap geometries. Traps can be made sufficiently tight along one or two dimensions that an effective two or one dimensional system is created. Thus an important element of the research is the study of both bosons and fermions in low dimensions.

Microlithography also permits great flexibility in the engineering of trapping geometries. In particular atom waveguides and coherence preserving couplers between guides can be envisioned. Such structures open the way to guided atom interferometry, with applications to integrated intertial and gravitational sensors, useful for inertial navigation and earth monitoring.


Chris Westbrook

Institut d'Optique
Campus Polytechnique RD 128
91127 Palaiseau Cedex (France)

(Moral) Support:

Francesca Arcara and Benoît Plichon

Same address