Quantum Optics Group (LMU) - Quantum Many Body Systems Division (MPQ)

Lecture: Ultracold Quantum Gases


What is the goal of this course?

The two goals of this course are firstly, to teach some fundamental concepts and techniques used in ultracold atoms research, and secondly to give an overview over the different aspects and flavours of this still very new, but quite diverse field.

The idea is that, by the end of the course, in addition to the obvious result of having the knowledge of the techniques and of the results itself, you should have the ability to successfully read current scientific literature on many subjects within the field, you should have an idea of what kind of research is being conducted, and should be able to discuss current work with researchers from this field.

In addition, because of the many connections of cold atom science with other fields, you will also learn a bit, or recall your knowledge, of those fields. This is especially the case for condensed matter physics, and the optics-related fields.


What will be discussed?

This course will cover a relatively wide area of the field, and will discuss both important experiments and methods as well as introduce the related theoretical aspects.

In the beginning, we will cover the most important concepts of cooling and trapping ultracold atoms and ions, and discuss the underlying mechanisms of the interactions of ultracold atoms with external fields. In addition, we will review important parts of quantum mechanics to correctly describe how atoms interact in the ultracold regime.

This will lead to a description of Bose gases in the degenerate regime - the Bose-Einstein condensate and its relatives - describing their collective behaviour as well as many-body physics aspects. We will then continue to discuss ultracold fermionic gases with their very different properties compared to bosons.

After the more general properties of cold atom ensembles, in order to get a more thorough overview of the very young field of cold atom research we will cover a number of the most important more specific topics. We will select those which are either conceptually important, enable important applications, provide a connection to other parts of physics, or simply because they are cool or novel. Since we try to introduce the most important conceptual background or theory for these topics, we will not (by far) be able to cover the entire field in this semester, but the many important areas should be introduced.


Who should take this lecture?

Anybody with an interest in the cold atom field, of course. This is especially true if you are considering doing thesis research in the field. More generally, if you would like to learn more about atomic physics and about quantum mechanics. One specific aspect about this field is that in many cases, the basic theory is simple enough that it is possible to cover the important parts of the theory together with experimental aspects and actually make meaningful calculations. So if you like fields where theory and experiments are still relatively close together, this course is for you.


Prerequisites (what Do I need to know?)

Knowledge in atomic physics and quantum mechanics is required. Some important topics of these fields will be repeated in this lecture, but without prior knowledge this will not be enough. Knowledge in statistical physics is helpful (but not required).