03 February 2010 ICFO in Nature Physics

“Clouds in disorder”
by Santiago Ferrando

A progress article describes new perspectives on the use
of ultracold gases in the field
of disordered systems.
Prof. Laurent Sanchez-Palencia (Institut d’Optique, Palaiseau, France) and ICFO Group Leader and ICREA Professor Maciej Lewenstein describe in their recent progress review article in Nature Physics fascinating perspectives on the study of disordered systems with controlled disorder. Ultracold atom systems such as Bose-Einstein condensates are presented as particularly suitable playground to study this kind of phenomena.

This research line is based on their own theoretical predictions concerning Anderson localization and a novel phenomenon called “disorder-induced-order”. As discussed in the article, disorder may lead to novel quantum states of matter, such as quantum glasses or “dirty” superconductors. The authors conclude that “amazingly, controlled disorder might sometimes induce more order, especially when it happens to compete with other order preventing mechanisms.”