Eric Abraham

Associate Professor



Presidential Professorship

Regents' Award for Superior Teaching



B.A. 1991 St. Olaf College

Ph.D. 1996 Rice University



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Ph: (405) 325-6568

Office: 127 Nielsen Hall


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Research Description

The goal of our research program is to investigate ultracold atoms and molecules, including Bose-Einstein condensation. Laser cooling and trapping (the subject of the 1997 Nobel Prize) uses a variety of lasers, in addition to magnetic and electric fields, to cool atoms and molecules to a range of temperatures colder than anything else in the known universe (between 10 nanoKelvin and 100 microKelvin.) At these temperatures, their wave-like nature is enhanced allowing studies of the exotic, quantum-mechanical nature of matter.

Over 80 years ago, Albert Einstein predicted that a gas of non-interacting particles could undergo a phase transition, collecting a macroscopic number of particles into the same quantum state. The gas must be cooled to where the de Broglie wavelengths of the individual atoms overlap. This concept of Bose-Einstein condensation has since been an integral part of the understanding of strongly interacting systems such as superfluids and superconductors. However, BEC in dilute atomic gasses more accurately approximates Einstein's original prediction for non-interacting particles and its discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001. In collaboration with Deborah Watson and Michael Morrison, we are studying novel collisions and probing the strong interaction regime where connections between the gas and condensed matter systems may be found.

While laser cooling and trapping techniques have produced a revolution in atomic physics, it is limited to a few atoms. We are currently working to extend ultracold trapping techniques to molecules. In collaboration with the Shafer-Ray group at OU, we built a new apparatus that uses electric fields to produce cold gases of nitric oxide (NO). Our method uses electric fields to extract the cold fraction of particles already present in the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of a thermal gas. We have recently produced samples of NO in the lowest ro-vibrational quantum state at temperatures of around 1 K. This promises to open new frontiers in collision physics and ultracold chemistry. It may also lead to new systems to create quantum computers and perform precision measurements to explore physics beyond the Standard Model.

Selected Publications

"Electromagnetically induced transparency with Laguerre–Gaussian modes in ultracold rubidium," T.G. Akin, S.P. Krzyzewski, A.M. Marino, E.R.I.Abraham, Optics Communications, 2015, 209-215, (2015) DOI: 10.1016/j.optcom.2014.11.049

"Confinement of ultracold atoms in a Laguerre–Gaussian laser beam created with diffractive optics," Sharon A. Kennedy, G.W. Biedermann, J.T. Farrar, T.G. Akin, S.P. Krzyzewski, E.R.I. Abraham, Optics Communications, 321, 110-115, (2014) DOI: 10.1016/j.optcom.2014.01.084

"A clip-on Zeeman slower using toroidal permanent magnets," S. P. Krzyzewski, T. G. Akin, Parshuram Dahal, and E. R. I. Abraham, Review of Scientific Instruments, 85, 103104, (2014) DOI: 10.1063/1.4897151

"Bose-Einstein condensation transition studies for atoms confined in Laguerre-Gaussian laser modes," T.G. Akin, S.A. Kennedy, B. Dribus, J.L. Marzoula, L. Johnson, J. Alexander, and E.R.I. Abraham, Opt. Comm., 84, 285, (2012) ADS: 2012OptCo.285...84A DOI: 10.1016/j.optcom.2011.09.011

"Experimental and theoretical investigation of the Stark effect for trapping cold molecules: Application to nitric oxide," B. J. Bichsel, M. A. Morrison, N. E. Shafer-Ray and E. R. I. Abraham, Phys. Rev. A, 75, 023410, (2007) ADS: 2007PhRvA..75b3410B

"Impossibility of a biased Stark trap in two dimensions," S. A. Meek, E. R. I. Abraham, and N. E. Shafer-Ray, Phys. Rev. A, 71, 065402, (2005) ADS: 2005PhRvA..71f5402M

See more publications.

Research Group

Michael A. Morrison, David Ross Boyd Professor of Physics & General Education, Emeritus
Matthew Holtfrerich, Graduate Student