Controlling the dimensionality of the Stern-Gerlach effect for neutral atom manipulation
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The Stern-Gerlach experiment performed in 1922 is a seminal work of modern physics. It was the experiment that first showed the quantized nature of the spin of an atom. This dissertation returns to this early experiment and describes the design, construction, and characterization of a variation that produces a one-dimensional Stern-Gerlach effect, or 1D kick, on a beam of neutral lithium atoms. Our technique relies on the combination of a magnetic field gradient and a strong bias field to generate a one-dimensional force on lithium entrained in a supersonic helium beam. By adjusting the bias field via variable, pulsed currents, we demonstrate the transition from a purely dispersive kick to a one-dimensional kick where off-axis heating of the beam has been eliminated. Pure one-dimensional forces enable access to new atomic and molecular cooling methods that can replace or supplement existing techniques to produce larger samples of cold atoms currently limited by evaporative cooling. Simulations suggest that the proposed magneto-optical cooling utilizing one-dimensional kicks will increase the total number of atoms in cold atom traps by orders of magnitude thus opening applications such as high flux atom lasers and more sensitive atom interferometry.