Vortices in Bose-Einstein condensates: A review of the experimental results
Rotating dilute Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) of alkali atoms offer a testing ground for theories of vortices in weakly interacting superfluids. In a rotating super-fluid, quantised vortices, with a vorticity h/m, form above a critical velocity. Such vortices have been generated in BEC of alkali atoms by different techniques such as (a) wave function engineering of a two-component BEC, (b) decay of solitons, (c) rotation of a thermal cloud before cooling it below the condensation temperature, (d) stirring with an ‘optical’ spoon, (e) rotating a deformation in the anisotropic trap in which the condensate is trapped and (f) by creating Berry phase by adiabatically reversing the axial magnetic field. Since the core of a vortex is a fraction of a micrometer in diameter, it cannot be directly imaged optically. The condensate with vortices is allowed to ballistically expand till the size increases by one order before the vortices are imaged. Surface wave spectroscopy and the change in aspect ratio of a rotating cloud are the other techniques used. Studies have been made on the creation and dynamics of single vortex and on systems with more than a hundred vortices. Results have been obtained on vortex nucleation, stability of vortex structures, nature of the vortex lattice and defects in such a lattice. Important results are: (a) evidence exists that vortex nucleation takes place by a surface mode instability; but this is not the only mechanism; (b) the vortex lattice is perfectly triangular right up to the edge; (c) in the initial stages of rotation of the cloud a tangled web of vortices is seen; it takes a few hundred milliseconds before the vortices arrange themselves in a lattice; this time appears to be independent of temperature; (d) the decay of vortices appears to arise from the transfer of energy to the rotating thermal component and is dependent on temperature; (e) defects in the lattices such as dislocations and grain boundaries are seen; (f) transverse oscillations (Tkachenko modes) of the vortex lattice have been observed; and (g) giant vortices have been produced. These will be discussed.
Volume 96, 2022
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