The IESL atom laser goes online

The atom laser paper of the IESL group will go online coming Thursday at the New Journal of Physics.

140325_1313WK Atom Lasers

A popular summary for the paper:
Optical lasers have revolutionised physics. Their extreme brightness has enabled applications ranging from laser-welding of steel plates to laser-cooling of single atoms (down to a millionth of a degree). Atom lasers are the matter-wave equivalent to the optical laser, with the atoms taking on the role of the photons. They stand to revolutionise fundamental physics and precision measurements just like their optical cousins did.

Atom lasers can be produced from Bose-Einstein condensates (an ultra-cold state of matter, where the atoms loose their individual identities and all `march in unison’ much like the photons in a laser cavity). Unfortunately, these condensates contain only a limited number of atoms. In the past the brightness of atom lasers was additionally constrained by the rate at which the atoms could be coupled out of the Bose-Einstein condensate, thus severely limiting any application of atom lasers. How can we reach the high brightness needed for atom laser applications?

By developing a novel matter-wave output-coupler, Researchers from FORTH-IESL on Crete (Greece) have now demonstrated a novel atom laser sixteen times brighter than previously possible. They also demonstrated thermal atom beams with a temperature of only 200 nK — a hundred times colder than any other atom beam observed so far.

One of the most exciting possible applications for bright atom laser will be the matter-wave interferometer, where the wave-nature of the atoms will be exploited to measure for example gravitation or rotation with unprecedented accuracy. Another opportunity is to use these ultra-bright atom beams to probe the magnetic and electric properties of surfaces with unprecedented accuracy or use matter-wave optics to directly write patterns of atoms onto semiconductor surfaces.

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