Science and Engineering

University of Texas at Austin

Mark Raizen
Austin, TX
$1,000,000
June 2015

This project proposes a new method for cooling the motion of atoms in gas phase towards absolute zero.  This method will far surpass laser cooling, the existing paradigm for the past thirty years, in terms of generality, flux of ultra-cold atoms, and atomic density.  Specifically, the new method is predicted to demonstrate an atom laser with a flux that is a factor of up to a hundred million times higher than current state-of-the-art.  The methodology is based on the supersonic beam, an extremely bright source of atoms.  Entrainment of desired atoms into the beam will be optimized using a novel pulsed source.  The atoms will be captured in a moving magnetic trap and brought to rest in the laboratory frame.  The atoms will be further cooled using evaporative cooling in order to reach quantum degeneracy.  The team will also develop a novel cooling method that uses lasers to control the internal state of the atom via optical pumping, together with magnetic forces from pulsed electromagnets.  The new source of atoms will be used for atomic interferometry, enabling more sensitive tests of general relativity.  Applications include noninvasive detection of gravitational anomalies, such as underground tunnels, as well as oil and gas exploration.  This work may also provide a breakthrough in ion and electron sources for lithography and microscopy, with significant impact on nanoscience.

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