Project Level: Summer

Project Duration: 6 weeks

Hours of Engagement: 36

Project Description:

What is a BEC? It turns out that at really low temperatures cold atoms have very weird behaviours they start behaving more like waves and less like the billiard balls that we know and love. This lets them express their quantum nature more strongly making cold temperature regimes a breeding ground for quantum phenomena and the perfect environment to study them. Solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas are known to most but at really low temperatures a new exotic state of matter emerges: the Bose-Einstein condensate where all the atoms occupy the same state and behave like a macroscopic quantum wave. It has weird properties chief among them being irrotationality and frictionless like superfluids with phase coherent like a laser but is made up of atoms instead of photons. This allows for the investigation of quantum effects at a macroscopic level! The Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) Laboratory at UQ uses lasers and magnetic traps to contain and cool atoms down to the Bose-Einstein condensate state of matter. We explore fundamental physics problems such as investigating turbulence in superfluids and quasi-particle systems in negative absolute temperature regimes and their consequence for underlying host physical systems. We produce emulations of other quantum and classical systems, such as pulsar glitches and the big red spot on Jupiter, and perform precision sensing, focusing on the measurement of rotation and magnetometry. We are currently in the midst of setting up new functionality for our experiments to increase the range of systems we can simulate and physics we can explore. We are therefore open to any student interested in a project dedicated to learning, developing and implementing new techniques to control and measure cold atom systems.

Expected Outcomes:

The student will gain a better understanding of atomic and superfluid physics; as well as, get first-hand experience with actual experimental techniques used in most physics experimental labs.

Suitable for:

Physics/engineering students who are interested in pursuing an experimental project in a state-of-the-art quantum physics lab. Experience with electronics, programming (any language), and data processing is a plus.

Contact for further information:

The project can be tailored to have components of measurements, design and simulation depending on candidate preferences and qualifications. Please contact Dr Guillaume Gauthier by e-mail ( if you are interested prior to applying. Interested students must contact the supervisor, prior to submitting an application. Evidence of supervisor support is required to be uploaded as part of the application process.

Project members

Dr Guillaume Gauthier

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Mathematics and Physics