The Open UniversitySkip to content

Laser cooling of rubidium atoms in a magneto-optical trap

Hopkins, Stephen Anthony (1996). Laser cooling of rubidium atoms in a magneto-optical trap. PhD thesis. The Open University.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (12MB)
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This thesis describes theoretical and experimental work concerning radiation forces on atoms, with particular reference to rubidium atoms confined in a magneto-optical trap.

After a short history of the field of laser cooling, a review of the semiclassical theory of mechanical interactions between two-level atoms and electromagnetic radiation is given. Different formulations of the semiclassical theory are discussed, including a new formulation in terms of momentum transfer amongst the plane wave modes of the electromagnetic field. Two important applications of light forces on atoms, namely 'optical molasses' and the 'magneto-optical trap', are then described with emphasis on experimental parameters.

Three sub-Doppler cooling mechanisms, 'sisyphus cooling', 'motion-induced orientation cooling' and the 'magnetically-assisted sisyphus effect', are described and their role in optical molasses and the magneto-optical trap is discussed. A new study of the polarisation gradients which occur in 3-D monochromatic light fields is presented and quantifies their relative presence in different light field configurations. Polarisation gradient parameters are developed and shown to be directly related to the relativistic spin tensor of the light field. Implications of this polarisation gradient study for laser cooling work are discussed.

The design, construction from scratch, operation and testing of a magneto-optical trap for rubidium are described, including novel designs for two vacuum cells. Preliminary experiments to characterise the trap are described and results are presented; they primarily concern the number and distribution of atoms in the trap.

Finally. the theory of time domain spectroscopy is reviewed. The construction and testing of a pulsed dye laser for study of coherent transients in samples of laser-cooled atoms and a proposed experiment to measure the temperature of cold atoms using coherent transients are described. Factors expected to influence the shape of coherent transients in cold atoms are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 1996 The Author
Keywords: Laser cooling; magnetooptical devices; rubidium
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Item ID: 19431
Depositing User: Ann McAloon
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2010 12:28
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2018 03:07
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU