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The field of quantum matter is complex and draws on atomic and optical physics, chemical physics and physical chemistry, plasma physics, statistical physics, solid-state physics and quantum chemistry. Although the field is driven by fast advances in experimental capabilities, theoretical work is essential to guide experiments and explain their results. The EuroQUAM programme provided vital opportunities for scientists from different disciplines and countries to collaborate, and in particular stimulated collaborations between experiment and theory.
Quantum Matter is matter in which all the constituent atoms and molecules are in a single quantum state and behave coherently as a single quantum object. It typically exists at temperatures less than one millionth of a degree above absolute zero. In the long term, quantum matter is expected to have applications in diverse areas ranging from high-precision measurement to quantum information.
The first form of quantum matter to be produced was Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), which was achieved in an atomic gas in 1995. In the 10 years since then, there have been enormous advances in our ability to produce and manipulate quantum matter. Many completely new physical phenomena have emerged, and the first applications (such as atomic clocks) have been established. The interest in quantum matter is now spreading to other areas, and new phases of matter are emerging in molecular systems and plasmas.
The EuroQUAM programme organised its final conference “Cold Quantum Matter : Achievements and Prospects” in Ischgl from the 12-17 September 2010. As the third in a series of EuroQUAM conferences, the intent of this final event was to review the progress in the field of cold quantum matter achieved during the three years of research activities and disseminate the results to the wider community and the press. Over one hundred scientists involved in EuroQUAM projects attended the meeting and an extraordinary number of PhD and postdocs presented their results showing that this particular field is highly attractive to young researchers. One of the groundbreaking achievements of this programme has been the realisation and study of ultracold molecules that opened an entirely new area of research that will lead to new developments in ultracold chemistry, quantum information and metrology.
The European scientists involved in EuroQUAM, already well recognised as leaders in this field, had the opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss future directions with invited colleagues from the United Stated and Australia.
The scientific quality of the event was also demonstrated by the interest of over a hundred scientists not directly involved in the ESF programme who attended the event, many of them expressing strong interest in joining similar initiatives in the future.