Quantum technologies have proven to be of value for highly accurate timekeeping, but the practical application of these technologies for use in a variety of environments remains an important challenge. At an important step towards portable quantum devices, researchers have developed a new, high-flux, compact cold atom source with low power consumption that can be an important component of many quantum technologies.
“Use of quantum technology based on laser cooling atom “Accurate watches have many uses for synchronizing electronic communications such as GPS and navigation systems,” said Christopher Foot, a research team leader at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. .. Wider deployable compact atomic clocks, including space, provide resoring power to telecommunications networks as local clocks can maintain accurate timekeeping in the event of network interruptions. “
Optical Society of Japan (OSA) Journal Optics Express, S. Ravenhall, B. Yuen, and Foot, describe the work done in Oxford, England, to demonstrate a brand new design for cold tom sources. The new device is suitable for a variety of cold-atom technologies.
“For this project, we adopted a design created for research purposes and developed it into a compact device,” says Foot. “In addition to timekeeping applications, compact cold atom devices can also be used to study physical phenomena in gravity mapping, inertial navigation, communication equipment, and research applications such as dark matter and gravitational waves.”
Cool atoms with light
It may seem counterintuitive, but Laser light It can be used to cool an atom to a very low temperature by applying a force that slows it down. This process can be used, for example, to create a cold atom source that produces a beam of laser-cooled atoms directed at the area where precision measurements for timekeeping or detection of gravitational waves are performed.
Laser cooling usually requires the placement of complex mirrors to illuminate atoms in a vacuum from all directions. In the new work, researchers have created a completely different design that uses only four mirrors. These mirrors are arranged like a pyramid, passing each other like petals, creating a hole at the top of the pyramid where cold atoms are extruded. You can adjust the size of this hole to optimize the cold atom flow for a variety of applications. The pyramid arrangement reflects light from a single incident laser beam that enters the vacuum chamber through a single viewport, greatly simplifying the optical system.
The mirrors in the vacuum region of the cold atom source were created by polishing the metal and applying a dielectric coating. “The adjustableness of this design is a whole new feature,” says Foot. “Creating a pyramid from four identical polished metal blocks makes it easier to assemble and can be used without an adjustment mechanism.”
Better measurements with more atoms
To test their new cold source design, researchers have built an experimental device that fully characterizes the atomic flux emitted from the holes at the apex of the pyramid.
“We showed a very high flux of rubidium atoms,” said Foot. “Most cold-atom devices make measurements that improve with the number of atoms used. Therefore, use a high-flux light source to improve measurement accuracy, increase the signal-to-noise ratio, and so on. You can achieve a wider measurement bandwidth. “
Researchers say the new source is suitable for commercial applications. With fewer components and fewer assembly steps, it’s easy to scale up production to make multiple copies.
Sean Ravenhall et al, high flux, adjustable, compact cold source, Optics Express (2021). DOI: 10.1364 / OE.423662
Quote: The new Cold Atom Source is a portable quantum device obtained from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-cold-atom-source-groundwork-portable.html on June 21, 2021 (6 2021). Lay the foundation for (21st of March)
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The new Cold Atom Source lays the foundation for portable quantum devices
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