Principal Investigator

Prof. David E. Pritchard
(visit also the BEC group and interferometer group )

Recently Graduated Students

Simon Rainville
James K. Thompson  

Single-Ion Mass Spectrometry
By trapping single atoms or molecules, we make the most accurate mass measurements in the world ! Since 1983, our group has developed a variety of novel techniques for atomic mass measurements and has used these to measure 12 atomic masses in addition to the neutron . The accuracy of these measurements is typically 0.1 ppb   (1 part in 10,000,000,000), making them 20 to 1000 times more accurate than previously measured values. 

** Recent News  **

By simultaneously putting two different ions in the trap and controlling their relative motion, we have been able to improve the precision of our measurements by about a factor of 10 (to below 0.01 ppb) ! To read more about the two-ion technique, check our paper published in Science on Jan 16, 2004 (Science 303, p. 334, see our publications page). The MIT News services also wrote a story about our recent success.

Simon and James have now graduated and have started postdoctoral fellowships on very different experiments. Simon is studying the biophysics of bacterial motility at Harvard (and the Rowland Institute) with Prof. Howard C. Berg. James has joined the group of Prof. Vladan Vuletic in the Center for Ultra-Cold Atoms at MIT where he works on laser cooling using optical cavities.

In May 2003, the apparatus was moved to Florida State University where Edmund Myers is continuing the ion work.

You can download Simon's thesis (in pdf, 1.8 MB) here.
You can downlaod James's thesis (in pdf, 2.8 MB) here.

For general inquiries please contact:

Carol A. Costa
Administrative Assistant
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Room 26-237
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

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Last modified: 3/1/2004