Counting cold collisions

Ueberholz, B and Kuhr, S and Frese, D and Meschede, D and Gomer, V (2000) Counting cold collisions. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, 33 (4). L135-L142. ISSN 0953-4075

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Abstract

We have explored experimentally a novel possibility to study exoergic cold atomic collisions. Trapping of small countable atom numbers in a shallow magneto-optical trap and monitoring of their temporal dynamics allows us to directly observe isolated two-body atomic collisions and provides detailed information on loss statistics. A substantial fraction of such cold collisional events has been found to result in the loss of one atom only. We have also observed for the first time a strong optical suppression of ground-state hyperfine-changing Collisions in the trap by its repump laser field.