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— At extremely low temperatures atoms can aggregate into so-called Bose Einstein condensates forming coherent laser-like matter waves. Due to interactions between the atoms fundamental quantum dynamics emerge and give rise to
periodic collapses and revivals of the
matter wave field.
. . .
This is a kind of artificial crystal made of light with periodically arranged bright and dark areas, generated by the superposition of standing laser light waves from different directions. This lattice can be viewed as an 'egg carton' on which the atoms are distributed. Whereas in a real egg carton each site is either occupied by a single egg or no egg, the number of atoms sitting at each lattice site is determined by the laws of quantum mechanics: Depending on the lattice height (i.e. the intensity of the laser beam) the
single lattice sites can be occupied by zero, one, two, three and more atoms at the same time.
The use of those
"atom number superposition states" is the key to the novel measurement principle developed by the researchers.
. . .