Creation and dynamics of topological structures in Bose–Einstein condensates

Tuomas Ollikainen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Topology provides deep conceptual links between the various branches of physics. Bose–Einstein condensates with spin degrees of freedom are among the most accessible quantum systems available for studying topological structures. A wide range of topological defects and textures available in condensates, such as vortices, monopoles, knots, and skyrmions, are analogous to those predicted in electromagnetism, high-energy physics, and cosmology. In this dissertation, we numerically and experimentally investigate novel creation methods for topological structures and study their dynamical properties. Specifically, we experimentally observe the evolution of an isolated monopole into a Dirac monopole in the presence of a quadrupole magnetic field. The Dirac monopole appears in the synthetic magnetic field of the condensate and is accompanied by spontaneously emerging nodal lines. We observe the decay of a quantum knot into a polar-core spin vortex in the presence of a uniform magnetic field. Furthermore, we observe that a decaying coreless-vortex state gives rise to a pair of singular SO(3) vortices. Many of the studied creation methods for topological structures in the condensate rely on adiabatic control of the external magnetic field. The counterdiabatic protocol offers a way to speed up the otherwise slow magnetic field driving required for adiabatic dynamics with a correcting magnetic field. Using this method, we numerically implement a scheme for fast vortex pumping which leads to the vortex with highest angular momentum reported to date in Bose–Einstein condensates with experimentally feasible methods. We further use the counterdiabatic protocol in a novel way to create quantum knots in the condensate. Another focal point of this dissertation is the study on different types of skyrmions in spinor condensates. Our simulations of two-dimensional skyrmions are in a quantitative agreement with an experiment carried out elsewhere, explaining the experimentally observed instabilities. We numerically analyze the exotic spin-2 skyrmions available in the cyclic and biaxial nematic phases. Importantly, we present the first experimental observations of Shankar skyrmions in spin-1 condensates and analyze their synthetic electromagnetic properties. This dissertation addresses an extensive amount of topological structures available in the condensate, but many different structures await future studies. In addition, the precise computational characterization of the elementary excitations of monopoles, knots, and skyrmions is of great interest. The results of this dissertation form a sturdy basis for future experimental studies on the dynamics of topological structures in spinor condensates.
Translated title of the contributionTopologisten rakenteiden luonti ja dynamiikka Bosen–Einsteinin kondensaateissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Möttönen, Mikko, Supervising Professor
  • Hall, David S., Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8752-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8753-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • Bose–Einstein condensate
  • topological structure


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