A Circularly-Polarized Optical Dipole Trap and Other Developments in Laser Trapping of Atoms

<p>Several innovations in laser trapping and cooling of alkali atoms are described. These topics share a common motivation to develop techniques for efficiently manipulating cold atoms. Such advances facilitate sensitive precision measurements such as parity non-conservation and -decay asymmetry in large trapped samples, even when only small quantities of the desired species are available.</p> <p>First, a cold, bright beam of Rb atoms is extracted from a magneto-optical trap (MOT) using a very simple technique. This beam has a flux of 5 x 109 atoms/s and a velocity of 14 m/s, and up to 70\% of the atoms in the MOT were transferred to the atomic beam. Next, a highly efficient MOT for radioactive atoms is described, in which more than 50\% of 221Fr atoms contained in a vapor cell are loaded into a MOT. Measurements were also made of the 221Fr 7 2P1/2 and 7 2P3/2 energies and hyperfine constants. To perform these experiments, two schemes for stabilizing the frequency of the light from a diode laser were developed and are described in detail.</p> <p>Finally, a new type of trap is described and a powerful cooling technique is demonstrated. The circularly polarized optical dipole trap provides large samples of highly spin-polarized atoms, suitable for many applications. Physical processes that govern the transfer of large numbers of atoms into the trap are described, and spinpolarization is measured to be 98(1)\%. In addition, the trap breaks the degeneracy of the atomic spin states much like a magnetic trap does. This allows for RF and microwave cooling via both forced evaporation and a Sisyphus mechanism. Preliminary application of these techniques to the atoms in the circularly polarized dipole trap has successfully decreased the temperature by a factor of 4 while simultaneously increasing phase space density.</p>
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University of Colorado Boulder
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