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      Revealing the Superfluid Lambda Transition in the Universal Thermodynamics of a Unitary Fermi Gas

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          Abstract

          We have observed the superfluid phase transition in a strongly interacting Fermi gas via high-precision measurements of the local compressibility, density and pressure down to near-zero entropy. Our data completely determine the universal thermodynamics of strongly interacting fermions without any fit or external thermometer. The onset of superfluidity is observed in the compressibility, the chemical potential, the entropy, and the heat capacity. In particular, the heat capacity displays a characteristic lambda-like feature at the critical temperature of \(T_c/T_F = 0.167(13)\). This is the first clear thermodynamic signature of the superfluid transition in a spin-balanced atomic Fermi gas. Our measurements provide a benchmark for many-body theories on strongly interacting fermions, relevant for problems ranging from high-temperature superconductivity to the equation of state of neutron stars.

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          Many-Body Physics with Ultracold Gases

          This article reviews recent experimental and theoretical progress on many-body phenomena in dilute, ultracold gases. Its focus are effects beyond standard weak-coupling descriptions, like the Mott-Hubbard-transition in optical lattices, strongly interacting gases in one and two dimensions or lowest Landau level physics in quasi two-dimensional gases in fast rotation. Strong correlations in fermionic gases are discussed in optical lattices or near Feshbach resonances in the BCS-BEC crossover.
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            Theory of ultracold Fermi gases

            The physics of quantum degenerate Fermi gases in uniform as well as in harmonically trapped configurations is reviewed from a theoretical perspective. Emphasis is given to the effect of interactions which play a crucial role, bringing the gas into a superfluid phase at low temperature. In these dilute systems interactions are characterized by a single parameter, the s-wave scattering length, whose value can be tuned using an external magnetic field near a Feshbach resonance. The BCS limit of ordinary Fermi superfluidity, the Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) of dimers and the unitary limit of large scattering length are important regimes exhibited by interacting Fermi gases. In particular the BEC and the unitary regimes are characterized by a high value of the superfluid critical temperature, of the order of the Fermi temperature. Different physical properties are discussed, including the density profiles and the energy of the ground-state configurations, the momentum distribution, the fraction of condensed pairs, collective oscillations and pair breaking effects, the expansion of the gas, the main thermodynamic properties, the behavior in the presence of optical lattices and the signatures of superfluidity, such as the existence of quantized vortices, the quenching of the moment of inertia and the consequences of spin polarization. Various theoretical approaches are considered, ranging from the mean-field description of the BCS-BEC crossover to non-perturbative methods based on quantum Monte Carlo techniques. A major goal of the review is to compare the theoretical predictions with the available experimental results.
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              Vortices and Superfluidity in a Strongly Interacting Fermi Gas

              Quantum-degenerate Fermi gases provide a remarkable opportunity to study strongly interacting fermions. In contrast to other Fermi systems, such as superconductors, neutron stars or the quark-gluon plasma, these gases have low densities and their interactions can be precisely controlled over an enormous range. Here we report observations of vortices in such a gas that provide definitive evidence for superfluidity. By varying the pairing strength between two fermions near a Feshbach resonance, one can explore the crossover from a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of molecules to a Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) superfluid of loosely bound pairs whose size is comparable to, or even larger than, the interparticle spacing. The crossover realizes a novel form of high-T_C superfluidity and it may provide new insight for high-T_C superconductors. Previous experiments with Fermi gases have revealed condensation of fermion pairs. While these and other studies were consistent with predictions assuming superfluidity, the smoking gun for superfluid behavior has been elusive. Our observation of vortex lattices directly displays superfluid flow in a strongly interacting, rotating Fermi gas.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                14 October 2011
                10.1126/science.1214987
                1110.3309

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Science 335, 563-567 (2012)
                11 pages, 8 figures
                cond-mat.quant-gas cond-mat.str-el

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