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You are invited to attend the Physics Seminar, How to Measure Nothing with Laser-Cooled Atoms

You are invited to attend the

Physics Seminar, How to Measure Nothing with Laser-Cooled Atoms



Thursday, February 25th from 12:30-1:20pm

Via Zoom:

Speaker: Stephen P. Eckel, Physicist, Sensor Sciences Division, Thermodynamic Metrology Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)


Abstract: Laser-cooled atoms are potentially useful for a host of physical measurements from time and wavelength to the quality of vacuum.  Our group is endeavoring to build the cold atom vacuum standard: a new type of primary gauge that measures vacuum using cold atoms.  But if anyone is going to use our cold atoms as a vacuum gauge, it ought to be roughly the same size, more accurate, and as easy to use as the conventional gauge: the Bayard-Alpert ion gauge.  But typical cold atom experiments are much bigger than an ion gauge, so not only do we need to demonstrate its operation, but we also need to miniaturize it.  Moreover, our cold atom vacuum gauge uses lithium, which, by a measure of our own devising, is the hardest species to use in such a miniature setup.  I will explain the techniques, including the nanofabrication, and physical modelling, that we had to develop in order to make our miniaturized vacuum gauge.  Our experience gives us the ability to miniaturize the laser cooling of ever more exotic species, like molecules, and possibly integrate other nanophotonic elements to build new devices for quantum information, navigation, or even remote sensing.