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Moving Ultracold Atoms Outside of the Lab

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA Auditorium

Speaker Name(s): 

Daniel M. Farkas

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Manager of Contract R&D and a Lead Scientist at ColdQuanta, Inc.
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • JILA Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

As the field of atomic physics grows and matures, there is an ever-growing list of applications where cold and ultracold atoms can be put to practical use. For several fields - timekeeping, navigation, gravimetry, and field-sensing, among others - ultracold-atom devices have already demonstrated the potential to outperform existing state-of-the-art technologies. However, creating devices that can perform these functions outside of a laboratory brings its own set of challenges. These devices must be compact, robust against large temperature swings and mechanical shock, and consume very little power. This is far different from a laboratory environment, where relatively spacious, temperature-stabilized rooms and immobile apparatus eases the design and operation of experiments.Founded six years ago in Boulder, ColdQuanta is a start-up company that is an offshoot of JILA. The company's mission is to simplify the production and use of cold and ultracold atoms. To that end, much of the work we do focuses on transitioning ultracold atoms from the laboratory to the field, where they can used for practical purposes. After reviewing some applications of ultracold atoms, I will present several ways in which ColdQuanta is helping to address the challenges of portability, miniaturization, speed, and reliability. As an example of our recent achievements, ColdQuanta's commercially available RuBECi vacuum system can now be used to create rubidium Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) in less than 1 second. The RuBECi is small enough to hold in one's hand and can be combined with other equipment (lasers, electronics, etc.) to construct a complete ultracold-atom system that is both portable and simple enough to be considered truly "turnkey." The combination of small size and fast ultracold-atom production makes the RuBECi a useful starting point for developing ultracold-atom sensors and devices.ColdQuanta has many ties with JILA: it was co-founded by JILA fellow Dana Anderson, employs former JILA students and postdocs, and has ongoing collaborations with several of JILA's research groups. Throughout my talk, I'll highlight some of the similarities and differences between research at a start-up company and an academic institution.