Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Deborah Jin

Second Advisor

Eric Cornell

Third Advisor

Leo Radzihovsky

Fourth Advisor

Jun Ye

Fifth Advisor

Mathias Weber

Abstract

This thesis presents experiments probing the physics of strongly interacting fermionic atoms in the BCS-BEC crossover. Ultracold atom experiments bring the ability to arbitrarily tune interatomic interactions, which allows for unprecedented access to the regime of strongly interacting physics. The majority of cold atom experiments, however, are carried out in an atom trap that imprints an inhomogeneous density on the cloud of atoms. Many phenomena, especially the signatures of phase transitions, are significantly modified by this non-uniform density. In this thesis, I present a novel imaging technique that allows us to probe a region of nearly homogeneous density within a larger, inhomogenenous cloud. Using this technique, I present new results for strongly interacting fermionic atoms, including the first measurements of the contact and the occupied spectral function of a homogeneous Fermi gas, and the first direct observation of the "textbook" momentum distribution of an ideal Fermi gas.

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