Laser cooling methods are virtually ubiquitous for
the production of ultracold quantum gases. Yet in order to
reach quantum degeneracy, a complementary step of lossy and
inefficient evaporative cooling has so far been required (with
few specific exceptions).
I will present the first realization of direct laser cooling
of rubidium atoms to Bose-Einstein condensation. The method
relies on Raman cooling in an optical dipole trap. A careful
tuning of trapping and cooling parameters is required to evade
inelastic loss and heating mechanisms, but the method should
still be generic enough to be applicable to various other
species. I will discuss the general requirements for efficient
cooling and crossing quantum degeneracy, as well as prospects
opened up by these results for the realization of a
collisionless atom laser.