Article in Nature Describes New Path to Bose-Einstein Condensates in Helium

Randy Hulet of Rice University recently published a perspective article in Nature on the recent achievement of BEC in metastable helium: Randall G. Hulet, "Bose-Einstein condensation: Getting excited about helium", News and Views, Nature 411, 425 (2001). The articles describes the reports of two French groups who created samples of excited helium atoms by electrical discharge, then applied the standard tools for laser cooling, magnetic trapping, and forced evaporative cooling to produce the BEC. These processes produce a spin-polarized sample of cold excited atoms, so the atoms have low probability for ionization by collisions. The high energy state of the excited atoms provides a BEC with novel properties and prospects for new applications.