Colorized Picture of a Bose-Einstein Condensate. Credit: NIST

By Brian N. Siegelwax

“I’m So Excited”

Why Manipulating Bose-Einstein Condensate is Exciting for the Quantum Community

The opportunity to experiment with the fifth state of matter (along with solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) ought to be personally exciting for just about anyone. But just in case it isn’t, this article is going to explore the commercial applications of quantum matter research.

First things first, Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) are formed when atoms, which are suspended inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber, are cooled to billionths-of-a-degree (nK) above absolute zero. A fraction of the atoms begins to share one quantum state, as if forming one giant atom. In fact, condensing thousands of atoms can make quantum effects visible without magnification.

Infleqtion’s Oqtant QMS [Quantum Matter Service] allows users, via a Web Application or the Oqtant API, to not only create BEC, but to control the amount of BEC generated and its dynamics. The clouds of BEC are then imaged and analyzed. The range of quantum phenomena that can be explored includes:

  • interference
  • coherence
  • tunneling
  • atomtronics
  • nonlinear behavior
  • superposition
  • superfluidity
  • and more
NASA Has a Cold Atom Lab (CAL) Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Credit: NASA

Out of This World

Oqtant grants you the ability to run Nobel-winning experiments similar to those being run with NASA’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Oqtant uses a single species of atom whereas CAL uses two species of atoms, however Oqtant enables greater flexibility in your control of the atoms. You can actually do some things with Oqtant that NASA astronauts cannot do with CAL. Except for the microgravity, it’s the same science.

The potential commercial applications of studying quantum phenomena in space, specifically gravity measurements and inertial sensing in microgravity, are satellite guidance and extraterrestrial mining.

NIST Atom Interferometry Picture. Credit: NIST

Waves of Matter

Many are familiar with “Young’s Double-Slit Experiment” and interference patterns of light, but Oqtant grants you the ability to study the interference patterns of matter. Not to be outdone by photons, atoms also demonstrate wave-particle duality, which means that atoms also constructively and destructively interfere.

The potential commercial applications of studying waves of matter include quantum sensors, quantum information, material science, medical imaging, and…

A Desk-sized Atom Interferometer. Credit: European Space Agency

Atom Interferometry

Studying the nature of matter waves has another practical application, which is making interferometers. Atom interferometry enables precision measurements. Oqtant currently offers painting potentials in one dimension, although its roadmap includes expansion to two dimensions.

The potential commercial applications of atom interferometry include gravity gradiometers, which are used for oil and mineral prospecting, imaging water column density, precisely determining Earth’s size and shape, surveying Earth’s gravity field, moving-platform measurements, and compensating for gravity for…

Gyroscoe Operation Graphic. Credit: Lucas Vieira

Inertial Sensing

The precision measurements enabled by atom interferometry are particularly useful because the mass of the atoms makes them more sensitive to inertial forces. Cooling the atoms reduces “noise,” thus increasing sensitivity further. The cooler the atoms, the greater the sensitivity, and ultracold is best. Therefore, cooling the atoms into BEC maximizes the sensitivity, or precision, of the measurements.

There are two tradeoffs to BEC’s increased precision, however. The first is that BEC contains fewer atoms, so the measurement time is longer than when using cold atoms. The second is historical, but worth mentioning. Until the release of Oqtant, BEC has been challenging to create and thus limited to research labs. Cloud-accessible ultracold matter generation opens up commercialization opportunities.

The practical applications of precisely measuring inertia are accelerometers and gyroscopes. Accelerometers are used in product testing, structure testing, electronic devices, condition monitoring, remote marine animal tracking, seismology systems, and inertial navigation systems. Gyroscopes are used in navigation, stabilization, inertial guidance systems, and consumer electronics.

Hydrodynamic Flow in a Bose-Einstein Condensate

Quantum Hydrodynamics

Oqtant lets you explore quantum hydrodynamics, which is the study of shock waves, vortices, and turbulence in quantum fluids. One application of this is the engineering of superfluid Reynolds numbers for the engineering of the non-turbulent motion of a superfluid through a channel with moving parts, such as pistons.

The potential commercial applications of quantum hydrodynamics include the engineering of quantum devices, sensors, and engines which must be able to operate robustly in noisy, real-world environments.

Colorized Picture of a Bose-Einstein Condensate. Credit: NIST


Speaking of superfluids, Oqtant empowers you to observe superfluidity, which is when a quantum fluid flows without friction, without resistance. Therefore, when a superfluid is stirred, the vortices rotate indefinitely. Superfluids share many analogous properties with superconductors, including the physics of Josephson junctions (superfluid tunneling) and SQUIDs (quantized currents).

Potential commercial applications of studying superfluidity include high-field magnet coolants, exotic particle detection, quantum solvents (spectroscopy), light traps, and high-precision gyroscopes.

Back to the Future – De Lorean DMC-12

Into the Future

Oqtant development isn’t finished. Some of the most exciting possibilities are still to come, including:

  • Atomtronics, which is atom-scale electronics using painted potential optical-atomic processors as circuitry
  • Quantum signal processing, which uses atoms and photons to carry quantum information
  • Atomtronics and quantum signal processing, together, to develop new quantum information processing schemes
  • Shaken optical lattices for interferometry, which could be useful for field-programmable inertial sensing on moving platforms, such as gyroscopes, outside labs

Brian N. Siegelwas is a Quantum Algorithm Designer. You can view his pages on LinkedIn or X (formerly Twitter) or GitHub.

December 8, 2023