An Atom Waveguide for Interferometry with a Bose-Einstein Condensate of 87-Rb

Reeves, Jessica Mary, Department of Physics, University of Virginia
Sackett, Cass, Department of Physics, University of Virginia
Kolomeisky, Eugene, Department of Physics, University of Virginia

A Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) production machine has been assembled and operated, using two vacuum chambers isolated from each other by a thin tube. A magnetooptical trap (MOT) is operated in the first chamber, where atoms are captured out of a thermal vapor and cooled to about 200 µK. The atoms are then transferred to a magnetic trap which is mounted on to a movable stage. A programmable motor moves the stage about half a meter, carrying the atoms to the second vacuum chamber where they are evaporatively cooled in a time-orbiting potential trap. We successfully used this apparatus to observe the first BEC's at the University of Virginia. We have also implemented a novel atom trap for BEC's of 87 Rb to be used in atom interferometry experiments. The trap is based on a time-orbiting potential waveguide. It supports the atoms against gravity while providing weak confinement to minimize interaction effects. We have loaded a condensate into the waveguide, and removed all other confinement fields. Up to 2 ×10 4 condensate atoms have been loaded into the trap, at estimated temperatures as low as 850 pK. We expect this novel type of trap will be useful for a variety of applications in condensate interferometry. Finally, we have characterized our trap by perturbing the atomic cloud with a sudden change in the confinement field. We subsequently obtain harmonic oscillation frequencies vi (ω x ,ω y ,ω z ) as low as 2π×(6.0, 1.2, 3.3) Hz. We have developed a mathematical description of the waveguide fields to account for the residual fields from the trap leads, obtaining good agreement between the measured and predicted trap behavior. The weak confinement of our guide should greatly reduce the limiting effects of atomic interactions. We anticipate that interferometer measurement times of 1 s or more should be achievable in this device. With suitable modifications, our waveguide could be used to precisely measure electric polarizability, gravitational forces, rotations, and other phenomena. We expect that the trap design presented here will play an essential role in allowing condensate interferometry to realize its potential.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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