MUMBAI: In a first for the country, scientists at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) have created the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) or the fifth state of matter. The other four states are solid, liquid, gas and plasma.
The condensate is named after Indian physicist Satyendranath Bose and Albert Einstein. Since the experiment involves cooling of atoms close to absolute zero (minus 273 degree Celsius), creating BEC was a technological challenge.
The scientists used magnetic fields and lasers to cool a gas of atoms of the element rubidium that resulted in the cluster of tens of thousands of atoms behaving as a single superatom. The TIFR team used lasers to create and trap the BEC in a high vacuum stainless steel-glass chamber.
What makes the TIFR finding special is the fact that there are only four or five labs in the world which have achieved BEC in optical traps. Its superconductivity means it has an important role to play in nanotechnology.
PhD students Sanjukta Roy and Saptarishi Chaudhury were involved in the production of the BEC