The bizarre form of matter called the Bose-Einstein condensate affords physicists an extraordinary way to study the quantum world. Scientists hope also to make practical use of these clouds of frigid atoms that share the same quantum state. Among the technologies they have in mind are quantum computers and accelerometers for measuring gravity with unmatched precision.
So far, however, the cumbersome equipment needed to make these condensates has hindered the development of such gadgetry. Researchers typically use magnetic traps that cover whole tables. These devices take as long as a minute to produce a condensate, too long for such uses as quantum computing.