The experimental demonstration of Bose-Einstein condensation in atomic vapors has rapidly lead to new advances in atom optics. It is now well established that two-body collisions play for matter waves a role analogous to that of a Kerr nonlinear crystal in optics. In particular, it is known that the nonlinear Schrödinger equation which describes the condensate supports soliton solutions. For the case of repulsive interactions normally encountered in BEC experiments, the simplest solutions are dark solitons, that is, 'dips' in the density profile of the condensate. However, it is desirable to achieve the dispersionless transport of a spatially localized ensemble of atoms, rather than a 'hole'. In that case, bright solitons are much more interesting although the problem is that large condensates are necessarily associated with repulsive interactions, for which bright solitons might seem impossible. While this is true for atoms in free space, this is however not the case for atoms in suitable potentials, eg. optical lattices. This result is known from nonlinear optics, where such soliton solutions, called gap solitons, have been predicted and demonstrated. We will briefly review the basic formalism for nonlinear atom optics and summarize various soliton solutions and then describe a specific model for gap solitons in a spinor Bose-Einstein condensate.
- Pub Date:
- September 2000
- Condensed Matter
- 22 pages incl. 6 PostScript figures (.eps), chapter for book "Nonlinear Photonic Crystals", edited by R.E. Slusher and B.J. Eggleton, including small corrections and modifications