Journal article Open Access

Emergence of a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate from a Fermi gas

Greiner, Markus; Regal, Cindy A.; Jin, Deborah S.

The realization of superfluidity in a dilute gas of fermionic atoms, analogous to superconductivity in metals, represents a long-standing goal of ultracold gas research. In such a fermionic superfluid, it should be possible to adjust the interaction strength and tune the system continuously between two limits: a Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS)-type superfluid (involving correlated atom pairs in momentum space) and a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in which spatially local pairs of atoms are bound together. This crossover between BCS-type superfluidity and the BEC limit has long been of theoretical interest, motivated in part by the discovery of high-temperature superconductors. In atomic Fermi gas experiments superfluidity has not yet been demonstrated; however, long-lived molecules consisting of locally paired fermions have been reversibly created. Here we report the direct observation of a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate created solely by adjusting the interaction strength in an ultracold Fermi gas of atoms. This state of matter represents one extreme of the predicted BCS-BEC continuum.
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