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Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a state of matter in which separate atoms or subatomic particles, cooled to near absolute zero (0 K, − 273.15 °C, or − 459.67 °F; K = kelvin), coalesce into a singlequantum mechanical entity—that is, one that can be described by a wave function—on a near-macroscopic scale. This form of matter was predicted in 1924 by Albert Einstein on the basis of the quantum formulations of the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose.Although it had been predicted for decades, the first atomic BEC was made only in 1995, when Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman of JILA, a research institution jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder, cooled a gas of rubidiumatoms to 1.7 × 10−7 K above absolute zero. Along with Wolfgang Ketterle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who created a BEC with sodium atoms, these researchers received the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics. Research on BECs has expanded the understanding of quantum physics and has led to the discovery of new physical effects.BEC theory traces back to 1924, when Bose considered how groups of photons behave. Photons belong to one of the two great classes of elementary or submicroscopic particles defined by whether their quantum spin is a nonnegative integer (0, 1, 2, …) or an odd half integer (1/2, 3/2, …). The former type, called bosons, includes photons, whose spin is 1. The latter type, called fermions, includes electrons, whose spin is 1/2.
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