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Optics for the magneto-optical trap

Josephson effect in a Bose-Einstein condensate

BEC Josephson junctionThe Josephson effect was first discovered in a system of two superconductors separated by a tunneling barrier. In the AC Josephson effect, a constant voltage is applied between the two superconductors.  This results in an oscillating tunneling current through the barrier, with a frequency proportional to the applied voltage.  Since the proportionality constant involves fundamental constants only, the AC Josephson effect serves as the voltage standard.

Applying a constant current results in the DC Josephson effect.  This is a voltage-free current (a supercurrent), which flows through the tunneling barrier, as if the barrier were a superconductor.  If the current is too large however, a voltage appears and a transition to the AC Josephson effect occurs.  This sharp transition gives a SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device) its excellent sensitivity to magnetic flux.

We made the first observation of both the AC and DC Josephson effects in a Bose-Einstein condensate.  This pioneering work opened the door for the currently active area of trying build a SQUID analogue in a Bose-Einstein condensate, which would measure rotation rather than magnetic field.

Related publication

Levi, S. Lahoud, E., Shomroni, I. & Steinhauer J.  The a.c. and d.c. Josephson effects in a Bose-Einstein condensate.  Nature 449, 579 (2007).