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A new way of making measurements on Bose–Einstein condensates (BECs) has been proposed by physicists in the UK and Australia. Calculations made by the team suggest that the technique could allow researchers to monitor BECs over much longer timescales than the several seconds possible today. If successfully implemented in the lab, the process could increase the use of BECs in practical applications such as atomic clocks and accelerometers.

A BEC is created by holding atomic gas in a magnetic trap and cooling the gas to nanokelvin temperatures. This causes all of the atoms (sometimes tens of thousands) to settle into a single coherent quantum state. When this occurs, the condensate is a macroscopic system that is described by the same wavefunction. BECs can then be studied to gain further insights into quantum mechanics or be used to create practical devices such as atomic clocks or extremely sensitive accelerometers that could be used for navigation and other applications.

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