Nonlinear atom optics: Four-wave mixing

Y. B. Band, Marek Trippenbach, P. S. Julienne

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The advent of the laser as an intense, coherent light source gave birth to nonlinear optics, which now plays an important role in many areas of science and technology. One of the first applications of nonlinear optics was the production of coherent light of a new frequency by multi-wave mixing of several optical fields in a nonlinear medium. Until the experimental realization of Bose-Einstein Condensation (BEC) there had been no intense coherent source of matter-waves analogous to the optical laser. BEC has already been exploited to produce a matter-wave `laser' leading to the threshold of a new field of physics: nonlinear atom optics. Recently the first experiment in nonlinear atom optics was reported: the observation of coherent four wave mixing (4WM) in which three sodium matter waves mix to produce a fourth. The experiment utilized light pulses to create two high-momentum wavepackets via Bragg diffraction from a stationary Bose-Einstein condensate. The high-momentum components and the remaining zero momentum condensate component interact to form a new momentum component due to the nonlinear self-interaction of the bosonic atoms. We develop a quantum mechanical description, based on the slowly-varying-envelope approximation to the time-dependent nonlinear Schrodinger equation (also called the Gross-Pitaevskii equation), to describe four-wave mixing in Bose-Einstein condensates and apply this description to understand the experimental observations and to make new predictions. We examine the role of phase-modulation, momentum and energy conservation (i.e., phase-matching), and particle number conservation in four-wave mixing of matter waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-284
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000
EventNonlinear Materials, Devices and Applications - San Jose, CA, USA
Duration: 24 Jan 200025 Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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