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Controlled formation and reflection of a bright solitary matter-wave.

Marchant, A.L. and Billam, T.P. and Wiles, T.P. and Yu, M.M.H. and Gardiner, S.A. and Cornish, S.L. (2013) 'Controlled formation and reflection of a bright solitary matter-wave.', Nature communications., 4 . p. 1865.


Bright solitons are non-dispersive wave solutions, arising in a diverse range of nonlinear, one-dimensional systems, including atomic Bose–Einstein condensates with attractive interactions. In reality, cold-atom experiments can only approach the idealized one-dimensional limit necessary for the realization of true solitons. Nevertheless, it remains possible to create bright solitary waves, the three-dimensional analogue of solitons, which maintain many of the key properties of their one-dimensional counterparts. Such solitary waves offer many potential applications and provide a rich testing ground for theoretical treatments of many-body quantum systems. Here we report the controlled formation of a bright solitary matter-wave from a Bose–Einstein condensate of 85Rb, which is observed to propagate over a distance of ~1.1 mm in 150 ms with no observable dispersion. We demonstrate the reflection of a solitary wave from a repulsive Gaussian barrier and contrast this to the case of a repulsive condensate, in both cases finding excellent agreement with theoretical simulations using the three-dimensional Gross–Pitaevskii equation.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Physical sciences, Atomic and molecular physics.
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Publisher statement:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 August 2013
Date of first online publication:May 2013
Date first made open access:No date available

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