Deborah Jin and the Fermionic Condensate

Deborah Jin is a respected American physicist who studies within polar molecular quantum chemistry in order to use lasers to make atoms cold. She has been involved in some of the earliest studies of the Bose-Einstein condensates which was led by Dr. Lene Hau. Dr. Jin is currently a NIST fellow at JILA while also being a professor adjoint in the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

In 1990, Dr. Jin graduated from Princeton University and later received her Ph.D. in physics in 1995 from the University of Chicago. While performing focused research and studies within the field of polar molecular quantum chemistry, Dr. Jin’s team was the first to create the fermionic condensate, a new form of matter. This process included using magnetic traps and lasers as means to cool fermionic atomic gases to less than a millionth of a degree above zero. This process successfully demonstrated “quantum degeneracy.”

Within physics, particles are classified as being either fermions or bosons. Photons are bosons while electrons, protons, and neutrons are all fermions with fermions being the buildings blocks of matter.
Dr. Jin and her team used lasers and magnetic traps as a means to cool a vapor of fermions to a temperature less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero on December 16 2003 and thus fermionic condensates were created. The study of Fermionic condensates is closely related to the study of Bose-Einstein condensates. However, unlike Bose-Einstein condensates, Fermionic condensates are formed using fermions instead of bosons and are a type of superfluid that is attained at temperatures lower than that of Bose-Einstein condensates.

The “superfluid phase” is formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures and are more difficult to produce than a bosonic one. Superfluids possess certain properties which are highly similar to those possessed by ordinary liquids and gases. These properties consist of the lack of a definite shape while simultaneously attaining the ability to flow and move about in response to various applied forces. In short, superfluids possess properties that aren’t typically found in ordinary matter thus being one of the major distinguishing factors between fermionic condensates and bosonic condensates.

For her amazing discoveries, Dr. Jin has also received several awards. These awards include the 2000 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and, more recently, the Benjamin Franklin Medal of Physics in 2008.

The findings of Dr. Jin and her research team were published in the online edition of Physical Review Letters on January 24, 2004.