NIST researchers have come up with a new method that may help to identify defects in superconductors, using a lattice of laser beams controlling a Bose-Einstein condensate.
The JILA experiments were performed with 3 million rubidium atoms held in a magnetic trap. A superfluid of vortices was created by spinning the trap. The reddish BEC cloud, about 100 micrometers in diameter, contained about 100 hollow vortices, like a spinning bundle of fibers. Lasers were used to set up optical lattices grids of light in an arrangement of energy peaks and troughs in triangular and square patterns and focus them onto the BEC.
Because BECs and optical lattices can be precisely controlled, the technique may be useful in studying more mysterious patterned superfluids, such as superconductors.