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Fundamental Physics with Quantum Matter in Microgravity

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 1:15pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA X317

Speaker Name(s): 

Professor Wolfgang Ertmer

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Institut für Quantenoptik, Leibniz
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • JILA Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

Coherent matter wave sources and coherent matter wave optics have reached a level of performance where gravity based effects may impose severe perturbations. Thus, microgravity can open new areas in which energy levels in the femto Kelvin regime get into reach. In addition, microgravity will allow new fundamental tests and new regimes of quantum metrology.In my talk I will report on the implementation of a Bragg-type interferometer operated with a chipbased atom laser for Rubidium 87Rb in microgravity. With a chip based atom laser we can generate thermal ensemble as well as Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC). With the help of delta kick cooling, implemented via the atom chip, we can further slow down the expansion of thermal and condensed atoms, reducing tremenduously the expansion of the atomic ensemble. In addition, the chip allows to transfer atoms in the individual Zeeman states of the two Hyperfine groundstates, in particular into the non-magnetic state. With this toolbox we could extend the observation of a BEC of 10000 atoms to macroscopic time scales approaching two seconds. Benefiting form the extended free fall in microgravity we could combine this with an asymmetric Mach-Zehnder type interferometer over hundreds of milliseconds to study the coherence and to analyse the delta kick cooling with the help of the observed interference fringes. This experiment can be considered as a double slit experiment in microgravity.A novel generation of atom chips allows to improve the performance of these flexible devices. We could demonstrate loading of the chip with far more than 109 atoms in roughly a second in a setup of the size of a shoebox. We discuss as a possible spin-off a chip based quantum gravimeter for ground based applications, recently demonstrated with our device. The design is employed for a rocket based test of such an interferometer and will demonstrate the feasibility of a satellite based tests of Einsteins principle of equivalence as pursued by the STE-QUEST ESA-mission.