Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physical Science (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Physics and Astronomy

Committee Chair

Mark Edwards

Committee Member 1

Jeffery Secrest

Committee Member 2

Kelly Patton


In a recent atom-interferometry (AI) experiment, conducted aboard the NASA Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) deployed to the International Space Station (ISS), a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) was formed too near to the atom chip wall for the AI experiment to be carried out. To fix this the experimentalists tuned the CAL external magnetic field and atom-chip currents so as to move the BEC away from the atom-chip wall. They then planned to turn the trap off and allow it to expand in place (since there is no gravity on the ISS) in preparation for the AI experiment. Unfortunately, when the trap was turned off, the BEC split into two clouds which then flew out of the trap. Trajectory image data from the one available camera provided enough information for the experimentalists to estimate a possible stray magnetic field. This estimate did not use the condensate size information contained in the images. We have used a variational approximation model for the solutions of the Gross-Pitaevskii equation to improve the estimate of the stray magnetic field. We describe our variational model and our method for determining an improved estimate that is based on the condensate trajectory and size data. Our improved estimate should enable the experimentalists to tune the CAL external magnetic field and atom-chip currents to cancel out the stray field and produce the intended intended motion of the condensate with the stray field present.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Wednesday, April 02, 2025