MIT Graduate Student's Doctoral Thesis Reaches Finals

Shin Inouye was a finalist in the competition for the APS award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics. Titled 'Manipulating Bose-Einstein condensates with laser light,' his thesis describes using off-resonant laser beams to perform several studies of super-cold atoms. For example, spontaneous off-resonant Rayleigh scattering was studied by exposing an elongated condensate to a single off-resonant laser beam. Inouye observed highly directional light scattering that was found to be analogous to Dicke superradiance, where the electronic coherence is replaced by the coherent center-of-mass motion of the BEC. As well, by moving a focused, far off-resonant laser beam through a condensate, he created vortex excitations in a Bose-Einstein condensate. The vortices were observed as dislocations in the interference fringes formed by the stirred condensate and a second unperturbed condensate. The technique was shown to be a powerful tool to study turbulent superfluid flow.