The susceptibility of ultracold gases to precise manipulation via external fields makes them ideal systems to study fundamental quantum mechanical phenomena. Various regimes, which are not possible to reach in condensed matter or nuclear physics, can be probed with these quantum gases. Especially the tunability of the interactions and confining potentials make that these ultracold gases offer unique possibilities to explore and study universal behavior. The tunability of the dominant two-body interactions in dilute ultracold atomic gases stems from the presence of Feshbach resonances. Via these resonances pairs of ultracold atoms can be associated to form ultracold molecules. In fact, measurements of Feshbach resonance positions can be used to reveal part of the underlying molecular structure. Vica versa, accurate molecular Born-Oppenheimer potentials can be used as input for full numerical coupled-channels calculations to reliably predict Feshbach resonances. For most of the heteronuclear mixtures currently studied however, the relevant molecular potentials are not accurate enough. As the coupled-channels method is often too elaborate and too time consuming to be used to fit the measured data to enable the construction of more accurate potentials, a need for accurate models which complement this established method is created. In this thesis we have developed a simplified model for resonant scattering of two ultracold atoms which fulfills this need. The asymptotic bound-state model (ABM) is a hierarchical model which can be systematically increased in complexity and accuracy. In its most simple form, the ABM only needs two parameters to predict the position and strength of Feshbach resonances: Two binding energies corresponding to the least bound state of the two molecular potentials involved. We demonstrate that this model, although it is solely based on bound states, can incorporate threshold effects. Additionally, the model can be extended to include: Multiple vibrational levels, overlapping resonances, and magnetic dipole-dipole interactions. This versatile model allows for a description of Feshbach resonances in a large variety of systems without accurate knowledge of the relevant molecular Born-Oppenheimer potentials. Being computationally light, the ABM can be used to analyze measurements of Feshbach resonances and hereby expose the basic underlying molecular structure. Additionally, the ABM is well suited to map out all available Feshbach resonances in a system. This ability is particularly useful when an optimal resonance is required for a certain experiment. For the 6Li-40K mixture we have utilized this ability to experimentally observe a strong Feshbach resonance which offers promising perspectives to reach the strongly interacting universal regime in a mass-imbalanced Fermi gas. By analyzing the various inelastic decay processes and the accuracy of the ab initio Born-Oppenheimer potentials, we predict a strong resonance in a mixture of metastable bosonic and fermionic helium atoms. For the homonuclear (bosonic as well as fermionic) helium gas we do not find strong resonances. For an ultracold gas of 40K atoms, an elaborate combined theoretical and experimental effort is presented to map out the Feshbach resonance structure. On the experimental side we observed 36 Feshbach resonances, 31 of which where observed for the first time. These observations are in excellent agreement with coupled-channels calculations which use unmodified Born-Oppenheimer potentials as input. On the theoretical side, we present a comparison between different simplified models of resonance scattering and the full numerical coupled-channels calculations. We have developed the resonant state model (RSM) to describe the resonant scattering of two ultracold atoms. This model is founded on resonant states, the natural (eigen) frequencies of the two-body system, and their non-trivial properties. Threshold effects are implicitly build into the RSM. The RSM can describe the effect of the continuum of scattering states, states which are neglected in the ABM, on the position and strength of a Feshbach resonance by only a few resonant states. Especially when a low-energy resonance is embedded in the continuum of scattering states, the effect of these states on the Feshbach resonance cannot be neglected. The RSM can be viewed as the natural generalization of the ABM. As the RSM can be based on just a few resonant states, it retains the computational simplicity of the ABM. Using the tunability of two-body interactions induced by a Feshbach resonance, we describe a crossover for a rotating Fermi gas between two strongly-correlated many-body states. We demonstrate that the correlation induced long-range interaction will shift the crossover with respect to the non-rotating case.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||8 Sep 2011|
|Place of Publication||Eindhoven|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|