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A surface-patterned chip as a strong source of ultracold atoms for quantum technologies

Nshii, Chidi and Vangeleyn, Matthieu and Cotter, J.P. and Griffin, Paul and Hinds, E.A. and Ironside, C.N. and See, P. and Sinclair, A G and Riis, Erling and Arnold, Aidan (2013) A surface-patterned chip as a strong source of ultracold atoms for quantum technologies. Nature Nanotechnology, 8 (5). pp. 321-324. ISSN 1748-3387

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Abstract

Laser-cooled atoms are central to modern precision measurements. They are also increasingly important as an enabling technology for experimental cavity quantum electrodynamics, quantum information processing and matter–wave interferometry. Although significant progress has been made in miniaturizing atomic metrological devices, these are limited in accuracy by their use of hot atomic ensembles and buffer gases. Advances have also been made in producing portable apparatus that benefits from the advantages of atoms in the microkelvin regime. However, simplifying atomic cooling and loading using microfabrication technology has proved difficult. In this Letter we address this problem, realizing an atom chip that enables the integration of laser cooling and trapping into a compact apparatus. Our source delivers ten thousand times more atoms than previous magneto-optical traps with microfabricated optics and, for the first time, can reach sub-Doppler temperatures. Moreover, the same chip design offers a simple way to form stable optical lattices. These features, combined with simplicity of fabrication and ease of operation, make these new traps a key advance in the development of cold-atom technology for high-accuracy, portable measurement devices.