General methods of controlling atomic motion : experiments with supersonic beams as a source of cold atoms

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Libson, Adam Alexander

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This dissertation discusses several recently developed experimental techniques for controlling the motion of neutral atoms. While laser cooling and evaporative cooling have been extremely successful and have been in widespread use for many years, these techniques are only applicable to a few atomic species. Supersonic beams provide a general method of producing cold atoms in the co-moving frame, but their speeds are typically several hundreds of meters per second in the lab frame. Methods to slow and control atoms cooled by supersonic expansion are detailed. A method for controlling the velocity of a cold beam of ground state helium using specular reflection from single crystal surfaces is demonstrated. The velocity of the beam is shown to be continuously tunable, and beam velocities as slow as 265m/s are created from an initial beam speed of 511 m/s. Magnetism is a nearly universal atomic phenomenon, making magnetic control of atomic motion a very general technique. Magnetic stopping of supersonic beams of metastable neon and molecular oxygen is demonstrated using a series of pulsed electromagnetic coils. Neon is slowed from 446 m/s to 56 m/s, and oxygen is slowed from 389 m/s to 83 m/s, removing over 95% of the kinetic energy. The experimental technique is described in detail, and the theory and principle are discussed. An experiment for slowing and trapping of atomic hydrogen isotopes at around 100 mK using a room temperature apparatus is described. A method for further cooling of magnetically trapped hydrogen ensembles, single-photon cooling, is proposed.




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