Department or Program

Physics and Astronomy


Since their initial production in 1995, the study of Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs) has offered exciting new insights into many fields including quantum mechanics and solid state physics. Atom chips, non-conducting surfaces with conducting lithographic traces printed on them, have proven successful in generating lower power magnetic traps for the formation of BECs. The combination of their lower power consumption, small form factor, and dense traps makes atom chips a promising way to face a ubiquitous challenge in the study of BECs: the effect of the earth’s gravitational field. To avoid these effects the NASA Cold Atom Laboratory aims to create BECs aboard the International Space Station (ISS) using an atom chip. This thesis presents the development of a similar atom chip based BEC experiment at Bates College, which will serve as a functional testbed for future research aboard the ISS. Both a theoretical background and a description of the experimental process by which a BEC is formed on an atom chip are provided. This process is primarily driven by laser cooling and magnetic trapping techniques. A 2D+ Magneto-Optical Trap (MOT), loaded from vapor pressure, is used as a slowed source of 87Rb in order to create a 3D MOT. We present measurements of the performance of both MOTs, and outline a path forward to condensation on the chip-based magnetic trap through use of radiofrequency evaporative cooling.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Lundblad, Nathan

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.