Atom Laser Pictures




 

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The MIT atom laser (schematic): A Bose condensate of sodium atoms is trapped between two magnetic field coils. It is a matter wave confined by "magnetic mirrors" analogous to an electromagnetic wave confined by two mirrors in a laser cavity. The atoms have magnetic moments (like a bar magnet) which are aligned anti-parallel to the magnetic field. Short pulses of an oscillating magnetic field flip the magnetic moment of an adjustable fraction of the atoms. These atoms are no longer confined and propagate as a coherent matter wave which is accelerated by gravity. Multiple output pulses can be generated.

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The MIT atom laser (experiment): A Bose condensate of sodium atoms (small spot at the top) was trapped between two magnetic field coils. It is a matter wave confined by "magnetic mirrors" analogous to an electromagnetic wave confined by two mirrors in a laser cavity. The atoms have magnetic moments (like a bar magnet) which are aligned anti-parallel to the magnetic field. Short pulses of an oscillating magnetic field flipped the magnetic moment of an adjustable fraction of the atoms. These atoms were no longer confined and propagated as a coherent matter wave accelerated by gravity. Every five msec, a new pulse was created. The image (field of view: 2.5 mm x 5 mm) shows several propagating pulses. The curved shape of the pulses was caused by gravity and forces between the atoms.


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