Lasers

Category archives for Lasers

Know Your Laser-Cooled Atoms

At the tail end of the cold-atom toolbox series, I joked about doing a “trading card” version shortening the posts to a more web-friendly length. In idly thinking about this, though, it occurred to me that if one were going to have cold-atom trading cards, it might make more sense to have them for the…

This is probably the last trip into the cold atom toolbox, unless I think of something else while I’m writing it. But don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s an afterthought– far from it. In some ways, today’s topic is the most important, because it covers the ways that we study the atoms once we…

Today’s dip into the cold-atom toolbox is to explain the real workhorse of cold-atom physics, the magneto-optical trap. This is the technology that really makes laser cooling useful, by letting you collect massive numbers of atoms at very low temperatures and moderate density. Wait a minute, I thought we already had that, with optical molasses?…

This topic is an addition to the original list in the introductory post for the series, because I had thought I could deal with it in one of the other entries. Really, though, it deserves its own installment because of its important role in the history of laser cooling. Laser cooling would not be as…

Last time in our trip through the cold-atom toolbox, we talked about light shifts, where the interaction with a laser changes the internal energy states of an atom in a way that can produce forces on those atoms. This allows the creation of “dipole traps” where cold atoms are held in the focus of a…

The last post in this series on the core technologies of cold-atom physics dealt with optical molasses, where you use the scattering of light to exert forces on atoms to make them very, very cold. It turns out, they end up even colder than the simple theory would lead you to expect, which is very…

`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well–’ `What did they live on?’ said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking. `They lived on…

This series of posts is intended to explain the tools and tricks used to create and manipulate samples of ultra-cold atoms; thus, it’s appropriate to start with how we get those atoms in the first place. This will be a very quick background on the basic force used to make atoms cold, and then the…

The other day, I made a suggestion to one of my research students of an experiment to try. When I checked back a day later, she told me it hadn’t worked, and I immediately realized that what I had told her to do was very stupid. As penance, then, I’ll explain the underlying physics, which…

Hey, dude? Yeah, what’s up? I’m not normally the one who initiates this, but I was wondering: When you were at DAMOP last week, did you see any really neat physics? Oh, sure, tons of stuff. It was a little thinner than some past meetings– a lot of the Usual Suspects didn’t make the trip–…