Toward applications of shaped laser fields to ultracold boson systems



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Experimental progress toward the application of laser beams with shaped intensity profiles to dipole force trapping of ultracold atoms is reported. The experiment combines a new method for beam shaping, producing beams with intensity control to the 0.3% RMS level, with an apparatus designed to produce quantum degenerate gases of ⁸⁷Rb atoms. Experiments showing the production of ultracold ⁸⁷Rb and progress toward quantum degeneracy are discussed, along with several suggestions for the advancement to Bose condensation. Novel experiments with this apparatus are proposed, which would allow the investigation of specific points in phase space which have, until now, been difficult if not impossible to access. This work could lead to high-precision measurements of phase transitions, including quantum phase transitions and quantum criticality in a Bose or Bose-Hubbard gas.