Observation of Phase Fluctuations in Elongated Bose-Einstein Condensates
The occurrence of phase fluctuations due to thermal excitations in Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) is studied for a variety of temperatures and trap geometries. We observe the statistical nature of the appearance of phase fluctuations and characterize the dependence of their average value on temperature, number of particles, and the trapping potential. We find pronounced phase fluctuations for condensates in very elongated traps in a broad temperature range. The results are of great importance for the realization of BEC in quasi-1D geometries, for matter wave interferometry with BECs, as well as for coherence properties of guided atom laser beams.