Spinor BEC absorption image

Absorption images of an spinor condensate comprising 106 87Rb atoms, following release from an optical trap, ballistic expansion, and Stern-Gerlach separation. The condensate is prepared in a superposition of the three spin components via application of a 15 ms duration rf pulse to an condensate, whilst confined in a crossed-beam optical trap. In (a), each component of the spinor condensate shares the same macroscopic wavefunction, commensurate with the ground state of the original single-component condensate. In (b), a magnetic field gradient of 100 mG/cm is applied to the condensate for 20 ms, and the wavefunctions of the different components are distinct as a consequence of the spatially varying relative phase. Our pulse protocol will manipulate wavefunctions far more deliberately, and on a much shorter timescale (< 100 ms), so as not to perturb the condensate wavefunction with the applied field gradient.