would you say your work is highly cited?
“Ultracold gases of atoms provide wonderful, unique model systems in which to investigate macroscopic quantum phenomena such as
The work by my group, and by others, has introduced ultracold
Fermi gases of atoms as a new area of research. There has been
considerable interest in this research because of the possibility,
which was recently realized, of creating and observing a superfluid
phase in a Fermi gas of atoms. Ultracold gases of atoms provide
wonderful, unique model systems in which to investigate macroscopic
quantum phenomena such as superfluidity. These low-density systems
are relatively simple, extremely pure, and can be probed and
manipulated in novel ways. Furthermore, the microscopic interaction
between the atoms is theoretically well understood. The ultracold
Fermi gas work grew out of the exciting achievement in 1995 of
Bose-Einstein condensation in a dilute gas of atoms. The possibility
of condensation and superfluidity in a gas of fermionic, rather than
bosonic, atoms was extremely interesting because of the very close
analogy to Cooper pairing and superconductivity.
are the circumstances which led you to your work?
My Ph.D. work with Thomas Rosenbaum at the University of Chicago
focused on experiments studying heavy fermion superconductors.
Following this I did a postdoc with Eric Cornell at JILA. I started
my postdoc in the summer of 1995, just after the first dilute gas Bose-Einstein
condensates were achieved by the JILA group. Creating and
studying an ultracold Fermi gas of atoms was the natural next
direction in the new field of quantum gases. Work on Fermi gases of
atoms and in particular the goal of creating a superfluid with
Cooper pairs of atoms meshed extremely well with my training and
would you describe the significance of this work for your field?
My group has done a number of pioneering experiments on ultracold
Fermi gases of atoms, including the first realization of this
quantum gas in 1999. A long-standing goal in this area of research
was to explore the possibility of achieving a superfluid phase in
the Fermi gas. In analogy with superconductivity, superfluidity
would arise through the formation and condensation of Cooper pairs
of atoms. We reported the creation and observation of such
condensates of correlated pairs of atoms in 2004. This Fermi
condensate is a superfluid phase that occurs in an extremely clean
and precisely controllable dilute gas system. Furthermore, we found
that the phase transition occurs at a remarkably high temperature
relative to the Fermi temperature, and provides the experimental
access to the predicted BCS-BEC crossover.
much has this research advanced since you first started publishing on
Experimental research in ultracold Fermi gases of atoms has
advanced tremendously in the last seven years. Ultracold gases of
fermionic atoms did not exist seven years ago. Magnetic-field
Feshbach resonances, which are a crucial tool in the realization of
Fermi condensates, had not yet been seen experimentally. Theoretical
work on superfluidity in ultracold Fermi gases has also become much
more sophisticated in recent years.
do you see this research going 10 years from now?
This is of course difficult to predict. There is a tremendous
amount of work to be done in exploring the BCS-BEC crossover, both
in terms of characterizing the unique properties of this new
superfluid and in testing theoretical predictions. People are also
very interested in pursuing the possibility of more exotic
superfluid phases with non-s-wave pairing. Another exciting
possibility is superfluidity of fermionic atoms in an optical
Deborah Jin, Ph.D.
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO, USA