Measuring Polarization Using a Bose-Einstein Condensate Interferometer

Deissler, Benjamin, Department of Physics, University of Virginia
Sackett, Cass, Department of Physics, University of Virginia
Bloomfield, Lou, Department of Physics, University of Virginia
Whittle, Mark, Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia

An atom interferometer using Bose - Einstein condensates has been implemented and is used to measure the dynamic polarizability of 87Rb. An off - resonant standing - wave laser beam is used to manipulate the motion of atomic wavepackets in order to implement splitting and reflection operations. It is demonstrated that these operations can be performed with near unity fidelity. Interferometer times of up to 72 ms as well as arm separations of up to 0.42 mm are achieved experimentally. The primary limitation for guided - wave atom interferometers with a large arm separation is found to be the effect of the confining potential along the waveguide axis. Such a potential causes a spatially varying phase shift on the wavepackets as they propagate in the interferometer. Different parts of the cloud therefore interfere with different phases, leading to a reduction of the interferometer contrast. A model of the phase shifts on the wavepackets agrees well with the experimental data. In a different scheme in which the wavepackets oscillate freely in the confining potential, these phase shifts completely cancel. Interference is observed at times up to 0.9 s in this case, but with a fluctuating overall phase of the output, which is attributed to mechanical instabilities. Finally, the dynamic polarizability of 87Rb is measured. A well - calibrated laser beam is applied to one atomic packet and not the other, inducing a differential phase shift. This technique requires relatively low laser intensity and works for arbitrary optical frequencies. For offresonant light, the ac polarizability is obtained with a statistical accuracy of 3% and a calibration uncertainty of 6%. On resonance, the dispersion - shaped behavior of the Stark shift is observed, but with a broadened linewidth that is attributed to multiple and collective light scattering effects. The resulting nonlinearity may prove useful for the production and control of squeezed quantum states. In general, this work also demonstrates the applicability of condensate interferometry to practical measurements.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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