When a gas of identical atoms about a million times thinner than air is cooled down to about a millionth of a degree above absolute zero, quantum mechanical effects become important. At these extremely low temperatures the gas can enter various exotic phases of matter, which exhibit collective phenomena such as Bose-Einstein condensation, superfluidity, or quantum magnetism. These phases are in many ways universal - analogous phenomena occur in a range of other physical systems, including liquid helium, unusual solid state materials such as superconductors, and even neutron stars. The atomic gases are often much easier to manipulate in the laboratory than those other physical systems, allowing us to study fundamental many-body physics in a highly controlled environment.


Ultimately, the fundamental research on ultracold atoms could also lead to many practical applications. Exotic strongly-correlated states of atomic gases could find applications in quantum computation and precision sensors. Better understanding of fundamental many-body physics could also facilitate controlled design of better "real" materials with tailor-made properties for practical applications.


For introductions to some of the research topics we are particularly interested in follow the links on the left.