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Cold atom interferometry in optical potentials

McDonald, Gordon Douglas

Description

This thesis describes recent experiments conducted on a Bose-Einstein condensate in an optical waveguide. This optical potential confines the atoms against gravity in the vertical dimension, guiding them to freely propagate in the horizontal. Being supported against gravity enables long expansion times of hundreds of milliseconds, facilitating techniques such as delta-kick cooling. In an ideal atom interferometer, the beamsplitters would impart a large momentum splitting between the...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorMcDonald, Gordon Douglas
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-18T23:44:56Z
dc.date.available2019-02-18T23:44:56Z
dc.date.copyright2015
dc.identifier.otherb3807145
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/156172
dc.description.abstractThis thesis describes recent experiments conducted on a Bose-Einstein condensate in an optical waveguide. This optical potential confines the atoms against gravity in the vertical dimension, guiding them to freely propagate in the horizontal. Being supported against gravity enables long expansion times of hundreds of milliseconds, facilitating techniques such as delta-kick cooling. In an ideal atom interferometer, the beamsplitters would impart a large momentum splitting between the interfering states in order to increase the signal. However, their effective use requires both an even narrower momentum width source and good vibration isolation. Three such techniques were investigated in this thesis: reflection from a repulsive light potential barrier, Bragg transitions from an optical lattice (which are effectively bouncing atoms off a moving grating), and Bloch-acceleration by loading the atoms into such an optical lattice and then accelerating the combined system. It is found that a combination of both Bragg and Bloch provides the most promising route to truly large momentum transfer in a system which is sensitive only to acceleration. Lastly, large-momentum transfer techniques can be used to effectively increase the way in which the output signal scales with time, creating interferometers which generate the same sensitivity faster (increasing the bandwidth of a sensor), or generate a much better sensitivity in the same time. We form a dual condensate of both rubidium-85 an rubidium-87 via sympathetic cooling. The collisional properties of Rubidium-85 can be modified by applying an external magnetic field, at an easy-to-experimentally-reach value of between 150-170G. It turns out that this combination of atomic isotopes is ideal for an interferometric test of the weak equivalence principle, one of the underpinnings of General Relativity. This thesis also presents the results of the first Bose-condensed version of such a dual-species interferometer. By removing any 87Rb left after condensation, we have created a pure 85Rb BEC. Using this we can now explore how the inter-atomic interactions affect the phase shift of a condensed atom interferometer, as we have complete control over the interaction strength. A condensate with no inter-particle interactions should behave like an ideal particle. With a small attractive interaction between atoms, it is possible to create a self-trapped cloud of atoms which propagates dispersionlessly. This cloud is known as a soliton, and it is predicted to have even more interesting quantum mechanical properties. For example it is predicted that by colliding two such solitons, an entangled state can be generated. Our results indicate that the dispersionless character of the soliton out-performs all other interaction strengths in an atom interferometer, including even the non-interacting cloud.
dc.format.extentxiv, 174 leaves.
dc.titleCold atom interferometry in optical potentials
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University, 2015.
dc.date.issued2015
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University. Dept. of Quantum Science.
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d514708d8ae2
dc.date.updated2019-01-10T06:21:01Z
local.mintdoimint
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