Teaching Lab MOT

Thanks to a generous gift from The Oliver S. & Jennie R. Donaldson Charitable Trust, the University of Rochester Department of Physics and Astronomy's advanced laboratory course is adding a Rb magneto-optical trap (MOT) to its array of modern physics experiments. The MOT was the subject of the 1997 Nobel Prize for laser cooling, and Carl Wieman (Nobel Prize 2001) was among the first to propose the use of MOTs for physics education [1]. The Bigelow CAT group is lending its expertise to get this project going, and we look forward to helping UR undergraduates learn about ultracold atoms. This experiment brings the topic of laser cooling full circle: 1997 Nobel Laureate Stephen Chu earned his BS in Physics here at UR. 

In August 2013 we achieved a MOT in the ColdQuanta chamber with homemade compact external-cavity diode lasers (based on [2-4]). This was accomplished by Peter Heuer, Jeffrey Kleykamp, and Maitreyi Jayaseelan under the direction of Azure Hansen, Marek Haruza, and Justin T. Schultz. Next we will be characterizing and further optimizing the MOT, and developing lab programs for its use in the advanced laboratory course. 

First image of the MOT at ~400 µK and the compact external-cavity laser design

Optical setups for the MOT beamlines & chamber and the frequency-locking system

The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester has a renowned laboratory course on Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Nano-Optics, run by Svetlana Lukishova. When the Physics Advanced Lab MOT is online, undergraduates and beginning graduate students in both the Optics and Physics programs will have a unique opportunity to learn about contemporary quantum optics and atomic physics through hands-on courses. 

A number of universities have implemented MOTs in undergraduate lab courses, including: 

Bridgewater State University, E. Deveney 
A polaroid photo of first optical molasses, taken by H.J. Metcalf.        
Ithaca College, B. Thompson
Miami University, Samir Bali 
Purdue University, J. Millspaw 
University of California - Berkeley
University of Colorado - Boulder, H. Lewandowski
University of Michigan, G. Raithel
University of Otago (New Zealand), A. C. Wilson 
University of San Carlos (Philippines), Karremans
Yale University, D. P. DeMille 
York University (Canada), A. Kumarakrishnan 

Poster for FiO OSA/APS-DLS Symposium on Undergraduate Research 2012

  1. Carl Wieman, Gwenn Flowers, and Sarah Gilbert, `Inexpensive laser cooling and trapping experiment for undergraduate laboratories.' American Journal of Physics 63, 317 (1995) 
  2. J.S. Wilson, and M.G. Boshier, `A Simple Extended-Cavity Diode Laser by A.S. Arnold.' Review of Scientific Instruments 69, 3 (1998) 
  3. Sebastian D. Saliba, Mark Junker, Lincoln D. Turner, and Robert E. Scholten `Mode Stability of External Cavity Diode Lasers.' Applied Optics 58, 35 (2009) 
  4. K.B. MacAdam, A. Steinbach, and C. Wieman, `A Narrow-Band Tunable Diode Laser System with Grating Feedback and a Saturated Absorption Spectrometer for Cs and Rb.'  American Journal of Physics 60, 13 (1992)  

Funding for this project is provided by The Oliver S. & Jennie R. Donaldson Charitable Trust, The National Science Foundation, UR's Department of Physics & Astronomy, and UR's Research and Innovation Grant.