The research described in this thesis is part of an international effort with the aim of studying ultracold quantum degenerate gas samples like Bose-Einstein condensates and Fermi degenerate systems, consisting of atoms confined in magnetic or optical traps. The behavior of such samples is governed by the inter-atomic interactions and the resulting properties of the atom-atom scattering. At the relevant temperatures of 1nK to 10µK a key property is the atom-atom scattering length a. In chapter 2 a theoretical method is presented which enables one to describe the interaction and scattering of (ultra)cold atoms to unprecedented precision. It is also unparalleled in comprehensiveness: it allows the prediction of a large and varied set of experimental data for all isotopes of the same element. The method relies on the extraction from experiments of a few (phase) parameters which completely summarize the behavior of the atoms in the (ultra)cold regime. In chapter 3 the method is applied to the "workhorses" of cold-atom physics: the atomic species 85Rb and 87Rb. We extract the foregoing parameters to a very high precision from several recent high precision experiments, allowing us to predict e.g. the 87Rb spinor condensate to be ferromagnetic: a prediction for which the scattering length has to be calculated with a precision better than 1%. We also predict Feshbach resonances at experimentally accessible magnetic field strengths; resonances searched for and found by the experimental group of Rempe. In close collaboration with his group we "fine-tune" the interaction parameters found previously, by making use of only one of the observed resonances. We then obtain agreement with 42 out of the observed 43 resonance field strengths and are able to identify bound states inducing the Feshbach resonances at these locations. Chapter 4 describes the results of this research. With a thorough understanding of the rubidium interactions, we then switch to lithium which has a fermionic (6Li) and a bosonic (7Li) isotope. Both are being used in cold-atom experiments. In chapter 5 we evaluate the interaction parameters for lithium allowing us to predict magnetic field strengths for which a sample of fermionic 6Li atoms can be regarded as strongly interacting. Furthermore, a three-level method for measuring mean-field shifts, based on radio-frequency techniques, is introduced. For weak interactions we find proportionality of resonance shifts to interaction strengths. In the strongly interacting regime, however, these shifts become very small reflecting the quantum unitarity limit and many-body effects. Most interesting is the fact that in this regime the shifts are small both for large positive a and for large negative a, likely reflecting the universality of the interaction energy. In chapters 6 and 7 the interactions between lithium atoms are reinvestigated, making use of newly available experimental data and with the updated interaction parameters special attention is paid to locating field strengths at which magnetically tunable Feshbach resonances occur in the scattering of lithium atoms. In chapter 6 scattering events in a gas of (fermionic) 6Li atoms are studied. In chapter 7 we show that a consistent description of the 6Li+6Li system can be given. We discuss theoretical uncertainties for the position of the wide 6Li Feshbach resonance and present an analytic scattering model for this resonance, based on the inclusion of a field-dependent virtual open-channel state. We predict new Feshbach resonances for the 6Li-7Li system, and their importance for different types of crossover superfluidity models is discussed. Molecules created by magnetically sweeping over these resonances will have a fermionic character. One magnetic field strength is predicted at which two different fermionic molecules can be created simultaneously.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||28 Jun 2006|
|Place of Publication||Eindhoven|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|