We study ultracold gases of alkali-metal atoms in the quantum degenerate regime. The interatomic interactions in these type of systems can be tuned using resonances induced by magnetic or electric fields. The tunability of the interactions, together with the possibility of confining the atoms with several kinds of external potentials, allows for a completely novel approach to study basic problems in many-body physics, and moreover, allows to enter regimes which have never been accessible in condensed matter or nuclear physics. For example, this has led to the experimental demonstration of an intimate relation between two types of superfluidity: the crossover from Bose-Einstein condensation of tightly bound molecules to the superfluid behavior related to weakly bound BCS-like pairs. Another experimental landmark was reached when the existence of universal Efimov three-body bound states was proven in experiments with ultracold bosonic cesium atoms. In this thesis, we study several aspects of these strongly interacting and ultracold atomic gases. We develop an analytical model that encapsulates all of the relevant scattering physics in atomic systems where open-channel shape resonances and closedchannel Feshbach resonances give rise to complicated and non-trivial scattering properties. This model provides lots of physical insight and is shown to describe important quantities, such as the molecular energies and scattering phase shifts, with a high level of accuracy. The model is compared to full numerical coupled-channel calculations in two atomic systems: rubidium and lithium. We study the BCS-BEC crossover using a many-body description of the ultracold gas that includes the non-trivial energy dependence of the scattering model. We show that it gives rise to superfluid behavior associated with the formation of BCS-like pairs while the low-energy interactions are repulsive in character. The energy dependence of the interactions is crucial, as it gives rise to attractive interactions at the Fermi energy, necessary for the formation of Cooper pairs. We demonstrate new ways of controlling the interatomic interactions using a combination of magnetic and electric fields. This leads to experimental control of, for instance, the three-body parameter in the context of Efimov physics and of non-universal behavior in the BCS-BEC crossover in fermionic gases. Using a four-body method based on first principles, we solve the molecule-molecule scattering problem to calculate several important properties of bosonic and fermionic Summary 145 molecules that consist of light and heavy atoms. These type of molecules are of current experimental interest, and we predict several exciting relations between three- and four-body observables in these type of systems.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||24 Jan 2008|
|Place of Publication||Eindhoven|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|