Laser trapping, cooling and sensing of atoms and molecules with nanostructured surfaces

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The study and manipulation of atoms and molecules has until recently nearly always been performed upon mobile and energetic species. Yet, as in so many fields, measurement and manipulation could be performed with far greater precision and finesse if the subject were confined and immobilized. Despite many techniques which focus on the slowest species, most measurements and virtually all reactions of atoms and molecules are performed on thermal distributions. The consequences for fundamental studies, processing and sensing are a finite interaction time and a moving, randomly orientated sample.Laser tweezers and Doppler cooling techniques use the radiation pressure exerted by a stream of photons to slow and capture a limited range of atoms. Pinned down and virtually stationary, the atoms can be examined and manipulated like never before. Deterministic quantum mechanics dominates their behaviour; collisions are reversible; and molecules can be formed and then broken with exquisite remote control. Even in these early days, a wide range of technological exploitations has been proposed, from metrology to sensing and information processing. Unfortunately, only single, tiny traps are usually possible, and, because the cooling process only works with a limited range of species, most atoms and all molecules that enter the trap retain enough kinetic energy to leave shortly after.We propose to use nanofabrication techniques, developed in Southampton, to produce arrays of concave mirrors whose foci, when illuminated with a laser, will each become a tiny trap. Such arrays offer to store many more species than a single trap, and each trap can easily be distinguished under a microscope. Confining species within a few wavelengths of a surface allows new interactions and techniques that increase the trap strength and enhance the sensitivity with which the species may be detected and observed. The extent and proximity of the surface also presents exciting new mechanisms for cooling a far wider range of species than previously possible. This research will investigate a range of trapping and cooling geometries, with the ultimate aim of extending to molecules the control currently limited to atomic samples of just a small number of elements.

Publications

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Bateman J (2010) Stimulated Raman transitions via multiple atomic levels in Physical Review A

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Bateman J (2010) Stimulated Raman transitions via multiple atomic levels in Physical Review A

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Bateman J. E. (2010) Hansch-Couillaud locking of Mach-Zehnder interferometer for carrier removal from a phase-modulated optical spectrum in JOURNAL OF THE OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA B-OPTICAL PHYSICS

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Cooper N (2013) Trapping of 85 Rb atoms by optical pumping between metastable hyperfine states in Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

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Cooper Nathan (2012) Actively stabilized wavelength-insensitive carrier elimination from an electro-optically modulated laser beam in JOURNAL OF THE OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA B-OPTICAL PHYSICS

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Horak P (2010) Optical Cooling of Atoms in Microtraps by Time-Delayed Reflection in Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience

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Ohadi H (2016) Nontrivial Phase Coupling in Polariton Multiplets in Physical Review X

 
Description EPSRC
Amount £39,479 (GBP)
Funding ID Knowledge Transfer Secondment 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2010 
End 05/2011