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Matter-wave interferometry in a double well on an atom chip


Matter-wave interference experiments enable us to study matter at its most basic, quantum level and form the basis of high-precision sensors for applications such as inertial and gravitational field sensing. Success in both of these pursuits requires the development of atom-optical elements that can manipulate matter waves at the same time as preserving their coherence and phase. Here, we present an integrated interferometer based on a simple, coherent matter-wave beam splitter constructed on an atom chip. Through the use of radio-frequency-induced adiabatic double-well potentials, we demonstrate the splitting of Bose–Einstein condensates into two clouds separated by distances ranging from 3 to 80 μm, enabling access to both tunnelling and isolated regimes. Moreover, by analysing the interference patterns formed by combining two clouds of ultracold atoms originating from a single condensate, we measure the deterministic phase evolution throughout the splitting process. We show that we can control the relative phase between the two fully separated samples and that our beam splitter is phase-preserving.

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Figure 1: Operation principle of the beam splitter.
Figure 2: The splitting of BECs is controlled over a wide spatial range.
Figure 3: The coherence of the splitting is examined by analysing matter-wave interference patterns.
Figure 4: Evolution of the differential phase throughout the splitting process.

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We thank H. Perrin and I. Lesanovsky for useful discussions. We acknowledge financial support from the European Union, contract numbers IST-2001-38863 (ACQP), MRTN-CT-2003-505032 (Atom Chips), HPRN-CT-2002-00304 (FASTNet), HPMF-CT-2002-02022, and HPRI-CT-1999-00114 (LSF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, contract number SCHM 1599/1-1.

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Correspondence to J. Schmiedmayer or P. Krüger.

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Schumm, T., Hofferberth, S., Andersson, L. et al. Matter-wave interferometry in a double well on an atom chip. Nature Phys 1, 57–62 (2005).

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