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.