Publication Title

npj Microgravity

Document Type


Department or Program

Physics and Astronomy

Publication Date



Extending the understanding of Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) physics to new geometries and topologies has a long and varied history in ultracold atomic physics. One such new geometry is that of a bubble, where a condensate would be confined to the surface of an ellipsoidal shell. Study of this geometry would give insight into new collective modes, self-interference effects, topology-dependent vortex behavior, dimensionality crossovers from thick to thin shells, and the properties of condensates pushed into the ultradilute limit. Here we discuss a proposal to implement a realistic experimental framework for generating shell-geometry BEC using radiofrequency dressing of magnetically-trapped samples. Such a tantalizing state of matter is inaccessible terrestrially due to the distorting effect of gravity on experimentally-feasible shell potentials. The debut of an orbital BEC machine (NASA Cold Atom Laboratory, aboard the International Space Station) has enabled the operation of quantum-gas experiments in a regime of perpetual freefall, and thus has permitted the planning of microgravity shell-geometry BEC experiments. We discuss specific experimental configurations, applicable inhomogeneities and other experimental challenges, and outline potential experiments.

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