Volume 83, Number 6, September 2008
Article Number 60002
Number of page(s) 6
Section General
Published online 05 September 2008
EPL, 83 (2008) 60002
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/83/60002

Counting statistics of interfering Bose-Einstein condensates

A. Shelankov1, 2 and J. Rammer1

1   Institute of Physics, Umeå University - SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden, EU
2   A. F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute - 194021 St. Petersburg, Russia

received 28 April 2008; accepted in final form 29 July 2008; published September 2008
published online 5 September 2008

A method is presented that is able to predict the probability of outcomes of snapshot measurements, such as the images of the instantaneous particle density distribution in a quantum many-body system. It is shown that a gauge-like transformation of the phase of the many-body wave function allows one to construct a probability generating functional, the Fourier transform of which with respect to the “gauge” field returns the joint probability distribution to detect any given number of particles at various locations. The method is applied to the problem of interference of two independent clouds of Bose-Einstein condensates, where the initially separated clouds with fixed boson numbers expand and the density profile image of the overlapping clouds is registered. In the limit of large particle numbers, the probability to observe a particular image of the density profile is shown to be given by a sum of partial probability distributions, each of which corresponds to a noisy image of interference of two matter waves with definite phase difference. In agreement with earlier theoretical arguments, interference fringes are, therefore, expected in any single shot measurement, the fringe pattern randomly varying from run to run. These results conform to the physical picture where the Bose-Einstein clouds are in spontaneously symmetry broken states, the hidden phases of which are revealed by the density profile measurement via the position of the interference fringes.

03.75.-b - Matter waves.
67.85.-d - Ultracold gases, trapped gases.
03.65.Ta - Foundations of quantum mechanics; measurement theory.

© EPLA 2008