September 16, 2005
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—David Hall, assistant professor of physics at Amherst College, has received a grant of $317,500 from the National Science Foundation to support his research, which brings the strange quantum world of Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC), the coldest matter in the universe, to undergraduate researchers.
The work will contribute directly to the understanding of vortices and superfluidity in dilute Bose gases. Hall stresses that "the broader impact of this work falls primarily within the relationship of cutting-edge experimental BEC research to undergraduate education. Undergraduate researchers easily use the operating BEC apparatus. Indeed, the apparatus exists exclusively for their use, with no competition from graduate students. At the same time, the laboratory hosts visits by undergraduate classes from colleges throughout the region, developing and expanding the interest in the exciting fields of atom trapping and cooling and Bose-Einstein condensation."
The research focuses on experiments in Feshbach resonances, which allow the experimenters to vary the strength of the atomic interactions in a Bose-Einstein condensate of rubidium, with an attention to the physics of component separation in binary BECs and vortex states in the noninteracting limit of single-component BECs.
The National Science Foundation is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting science and engineering through programs that invest more than $3 billion a year in almost 20,000 research and education projects. Amherst College currently receives almost $5 million in support from such grants.