All chips are made out of atoms, but only recently special chips have been made to guide the motion of (ultracold) atoms. These then are called “atom chips”. A bunch of current-carrying wires on the chip is used to create magnetic fields that determine the potential which the atoms see. In this way, complicated interference setups and other structures can be created – in principle. Up to now, many imperfections have still somewhat slowed progress.
That’s why a recent paper by the Schmiedmayer group,
seems to be an important step forward. They show how they can shape their wires much more accurately than before, which bodes well for the future ability to implement all kinds of nice structures in which transport of ultracold atoms will be studied.
Incidentally, this paper also has the honour of being the first that is linked to on this blog (because it happened to be the first that caught my eye on this day’s cond-mat new articles in arXiv).