Atomic Physics Otago

Atom Interferometer

Atom interferometers have been shown to make measurements with unsurpassed accuracy. This allows them to be used in the determination of fundamental constants, such as the fine structure constant α, providing us with the opportunity to test current theories and further the borders of our understanding.


Using laser cooled Rb85 atoms from a Magneto-Optical Trap (MOT), we can exploit the fundamental wave-nature of matter to build an interferometer that uses atoms as the interfering waves. We put the atoms into a coherent superposition of different momentum states which then traverse the different paths in the interferometer. Measurements using such atomic interferometers play an essential role in many high precision measurements.





Below: An atom interference signal obtained in our atom interferometer.

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