A cold atom apparatus for the microscopy of thin membranes

GADGE, AMRUTA (2018) A cold atom apparatus for the microscopy of thin membranes. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Ultracold atomic gases can be utilised as extremely sensitive probes of their surrounding environment. In particular, samples of ultracold atoms confined using chip-based microtraps are an ideal tool for mapping electric and magnetic field landscapes. Over the course of this thesis, a new experiment capable of performing surface microscopy using magnetically trapped clouds of cold rubidium-87 atoms has been built. The focus of the work is on the design and construction of the experimental system, which must incorporate many different aspects for manipulating thermal atomic gases, with a view to positioning them at sub-micron distances from special surfaces. This reduced atom-surface separation is necessary for implementing a high resolution, high sensitivity magnetic field sensor with cold atoms.

Although current microfabrication techniques easily enable trapping at distances on the order of micrometres, several distance-dependent surface effects - such as the Casimir-Polder force, Johnson-Nyquist noise, and stray potentials - eventually impede magnetic trapping at the sub-micron level. These surface effects can greatly modify the confining potentials, which reduces the trap depth and consequently leads to an additional loss rate of atoms from the trap. We have explored the possibility of using special surfaces such as nano-membranes of silicon nitride and graphene, which have reduced atom- surface interactions, to enable trapping distances at the sub-micron level. A multilayer printed circuit board chip has been designed to form an initial magnetic trap and then transport the cloud of atoms to a desired location over the samples. This chip, along with various samples, is mounted on a custom-made electrical feedthrough designed to make connections to all conductor that are inside the vacuum chamber. The initial cloud of cold atoms can then be prepared in the central region of the chip and delivered to the location of the samples on either side.

The experimental system is able to routinely capture over 10^8 rubidium-87 atoms at a temperature of 80 micro-Kelvin in a magneto-optical trap using a novel scheme of five laser beams. A method is demonstrated for enhancing the atom number in the magneto-optical traps by a factor of two by using laser beams with two slightly different frequencies. Atoms from the magneto-optical trap are then transferred to a purely magnetic trap formed by the wires on the printed circuit board chip. Time-dependent currents in the chip wires then create a dynamic potential, which is shown to successfully transport the atomic sample over a distance of 12 millimetre with minimal atom loss.

This thesis describes the development of the apparatus in detail, along with careful characterisation of the cold cloud at various stages of the experimental sequence. Initial results on the long distance atom transport are presented. Finally, the experimental results of the two frequency magneto-optical trap for atom number improvement are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Fernholz, Thomas
Kruger, Peter
Keywords: Ultracold atoms, magnetic field sensor, cold atoms microscopy
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics > QC170 Atomic physics. Constitution and properties of matter
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Item ID: 49881
Depositing User: GADGE, AMRUTA
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 18:31
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/49881

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