Pairing is the fundamental requirement for fermionic superfluidity and superconductivity. To understand the mechanism behind pair formation is an ongoing challenge in the study of many strongly correlated fermionic systems. Cooper pairs are the key ingredient to BCS theory as the microscopic explanation of conventional superconductivity. They form between particles of opposite spin and momentum at the Fermi surface of the system. Here, we directly observe Cooper pairs in a mesoscopic two-dimensional Fermi gas. We apply an imaging scheme that enables us to extract the full in-situ momentum distribution of a strongly interacting Fermi gas with single particle and spin resolution. Our ultracold gas allows us to freely tune between a completely non-interacting, unpaired system and weak attractions, where we find Cooper pair correlations at the Fermi surface. When increasing the attractive interactions even further, the pairs gradually turn into deeply bound molecules breaking up the Fermi surface. Our mesoscopic system is closely related to the physics of nuclei, superconducting grains or quantum dots. With the precise control over interactions, particle number and potential landscape in our experiment, the observables we establish in this work provide a new approach to longstanding questions concerning not only such mesoscopic systems but also their connection to the macroscopic world.
M. Holten, L. Bayha, K. Subramanian, S. Brandstetter, C. Heintze, P. Lunt, P. M. Preiss, S. Jochim: ” Observation of Cooper Pairs in a Mesoscopic 2D Fermi Gas”, Nature 606, 287-291 (2022).
Related to Project C01