A paper presents a theoretical investigation of subsonic and supersonic effects in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The BEC is represented by a time-dependent, nonlinear Schroedinger equation that includes terms for an external confining potential term and a weak interatomic repulsive potential proportional to the number density of atoms. From this model are derived Madelung equations, which relate the quantum phase with the number density, and which are used to represent excitations propagating through the BEC. These equations are shown to be analogous to the classical equations of flow of an inviscid, compressible fluid characterized by a speed of sound (g0)1/2, where g is the coefficient of the repulsive potential and ρ0 is the unperturbed mass density of the BEC. The equations are used to study the effects of a region of perturbation moving through the BEC. The excitations created by a perturbation moving at subsonic speed are found to be described by a Laplace equation and to propagate at infinite speed. For a supersonically moving perturbation, the excitations are found to be described by a wave equation and to propagate at finite speed inside a Mach cone.

This work was done by Michail Zak of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To obtain a copy of the paper, "Sub- and supersonic effects in Bose-Einstein condensate," access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. NPO-30637.

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Subsonic and Supersonic Effects in Bose-Einstein Condesate

(reference NPO-30637) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the February, 2003 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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