Letter | Published:

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

Nature Nanotechnology volume 8, pages 321324 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Laser-cooled atoms are central to modern precision measurements1,2,3,4,5,6. They are also increasingly important as an enabling technology for experimental cavity quantum electrodynamics7,8, quantum information processing9,10,11 and matter–wave interferometry12. Although significant progress has been made in miniaturizing atomic metrological devices13,14, 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 regime15,16. However, simplifying atomic cooling and loading using microfabrication technology has proved difficult17,18. 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.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , , & An optical lattice clock. Nature 435, 321–324 (2005).

  2. 2.

    et al. Spin self-rephasing and very long coherence times in a trapped atomic ensemble. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 020401 (2010).

  3. 3.

    et al. Extended coherence time on the clock transition of optically trapped rubidium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 240801 (2011).

  4. 4.

    et al. A cold atom pyramidal gravimeter with a single laser beam. Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 134101 (2010).

  5. 5.

    et al. Precision measurement of gravity with cold atoms in an optical lattice and comparison with a classical gravimeter. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 038501 (2011).

  6. 6.

    , , , & Determination of the Newtonian gravitational constant using atom interferometry. Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 050801 (2008).

  7. 7.

    et al. A single-atom quantum memory. Nature 473, 190–193 (2011).

  8. 8.

    et al. An elementary quantum network of single atoms in optical cavities. Nature 484, 195–201 (2012).

  9. 9.

    et al. Probing the superfluid-to-Mott insulator transition at the single-atom level. Science 329, 547–550 (2010).

  10. 10.

    et al. Single-atom-resolved fluorescence imaging of an atomic Mott insulator. Nature 467, 68–72 (2010).

  11. 11.

    , , , & A Rydberg quantum simulator. Nature Phys. 6, 382–388 (2010).

  12. 12.

    , & A precision measurement of the gravitational redshift by the interference of matter waves. Nature 463, 926–930 (2010).

  13. 13.

    et al. A microfabricated atomic clock. Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 1460–1462 (2004); actual products at www.symmetricom.com.

  14. 14.

    , , & Subpicotesla atomic magnetometry with a microfabricated vapour cell. Nature Photon. 1, 649–652 (2007).

  15. 15.

    et al. Bose–Einstein condensation in microgravity. Science 328, 1540–1543 (2010).

  16. 16.

    & (eds) Atom Chips (Wiley, 2011).

  17. 17.

    , , & Integrated magneto-optical traps on a chip using silicon pyramid structures. Opt. Express 17, 14109–14114 (2009).

  18. 18.

    , , , & Characteristics of integrated magneto-optical traps for atom chips. New J. Phys. 13, 043029 (2011).

  19. 19.

    , , , & Trapping of neutral sodium atoms with radiation pressure. Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 2631–2634 (1987).

  20. 20.

    , , & Bose–Einstein condensation on a microelectronic chip. Nature 413, 498–501 (2001).

  21. 21.

    et al. Matter–wave interferometry in a double well on an atom chip. Nature Phys. 1, 57–62 (2005).

  22. 22.

    et al. Measuring energy differences by BEC interferometry on a chip. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 243003 (2010).

  23. 23.

    et al. Atom-chip-based generation of entanglement for quantum metrology. Nature 464, 1170–1173 (2010).

  24. 24.

    ColdQuanta; available at .

  25. 25.

    , , & Single-beam atom trap in a pyramidal and conical hollow mirror. Opt. Lett. 21, 1177–1179 (1996).

  26. 26.

    , , & Single-laser, one beam, tetrahedral magneto-optical trap. Opt. Express 17, 13601–13608 (2009).

  27. 27.

    , , & Laser cooling with a single laser beam and a planar diffractor. Opt. Lett. 35, 3453–3455 (2010).

  28. 28.

    , & Experimental and theoretical study of the vapor-cell Zeeman optical trap. Phys. Rev. A 46, 4082–4090 (1992).

  29. 29.

    & Laser cooling below the Doppler limit by polarisation gradients: simple theoretical models. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 6, 2023–2045 (1989).

  30. 30.

    , & Quantum simulations with ultracold quantum gases. Nature Phys. 8, 267–276 (2012).

  31. 31.

    , & Atomic micromanipulation with magnetic surface traps. Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 3398–3401 (1999).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge support from EPSRC, a Knowledge Transfer account for C.N. and a support fund for J.C. and also the ESA (through ESTEC project TEC-MME/2009/66), CEC FP7 (through project 247687; AQUTE), the Wellcome Trust (089245/Z/09/Z), NPL's strategic research programme and the UK National Measurement Office. P.G. is supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and E.H. by the Royal Society. Chip A was fabricated by Mir Enterprises. The authors thank P. Edwards for assistance with the SEM insets in Fig. 2a,b. All other SEM images in Fig. 2 are courtesy of Kelvin Nanotechnology, who fabricated chips B–D at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. The authors also thank J.P. Griffith and G.A.C. Jones for assistance with GaAs electron-beam lithography.

Author information

Author notes

    • C. C. Nshii
    • , M. Vangeleyn
    •  & J. P. Cotter

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics, SUPA, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G4 0NG, UK

    • C. C. Nshii
    • , M. Vangeleyn
    • , P. F. Griffin
    • , E. Riis
    •  & A. S. Arnold
  2. Centre for Cold Matter, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BW, UK

    • J. P. Cotter
    •  & E. A. Hinds
  3. Rankine Building, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LT, UK

    • C. N. Ironside
  4. National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LW, UK

    • P. See
    •  & A. G. Sinclair

Authors

  1. Search for C. C. Nshii in:

  2. Search for M. Vangeleyn in:

  3. Search for J. P. Cotter in:

  4. Search for P. F. Griffin in:

  5. Search for E. A. Hinds in:

  6. Search for C. N. Ironside in:

  7. Search for P. See in:

  8. Search for A. G. Sinclair in:

  9. Search for E. Riis in:

  10. Search for A. S. Arnold in:

Contributions

C.N., M.V., P.G., E.R. and A.A. constructed and maintained the apparatus. C.N., J.C. and A.A. collected the data, which was analysed by J.C. and A.A. Chip A was designed by J.C. and E.H. Chips B–D were designed by E.R. and A.A., with fabrication directed by P.S., A.S. and C.I. The manuscript was written by J.C., E.H. and A.A., with comments from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to E. A. Hinds or A. S. Arnold.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary information

Image files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2013.47

Further reading