Neutral atom imaging using a pulsed electromagnetic lens
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This dissertation describes the design, construction, and characterization of a new type of aberration-corrected, neutral-atom lens. Atom beam control plays a crucial role in many different fields, ranging from fundamental physics research and materials science to applied nanotechnology. Despite this, atom-optical elements like lenses and mirrors remain relatively underdeveloped compared to their counterparts in other optics fields. Though aberration correction is addressed quite comprehensively in photon and electron lenses, no credible research efforts have yet produced the same technology for neutral atoms. We report on progress towards a neutral atom imaging device that will be useful in a range of applications, including nanofabrication and surface microscopy. Our novel technique for improving refractive power and correcting chromatic aberration in atom lenses is based on a fundamental paradigm shift from continuous, two-dimensional focusing to a pulsed, three-dimensional approach. Simulations of this system suggest that it will pave the way towards the long-sought goal of true atom imaging on the nanoscale. We construct a prototype lens and show that all of the technological requirements for the proposed system are easily satisfied. Using metastable neon from a supersonic source, we characterize this prototype for three different focal lengths and a diverse range of apertures. Despite some manufacturing imperfections, we observe lower distortion and higher resolution than has been shown in any previous hexapole lens. Comparison with simulations corroborates the underlying theory and encourages further refinement of the process.