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Nanoscale atomic suspended waveguides for improved vapour coherence times and optical frequency referencing


There has recently been growing interest in integrating and miniaturizing vapour cells to reduce cost, size and power consumption. Hereby we provide a new paradigm in chip-scale-integrated vapour cells by experimentally demonstrating the nanoatomic suspended waveguide, which introduces a nanoscale silicon nitride waveguide suspended in rubidium vapour. By doing so, the properties of the optical modes and the light–vapour interactions are controlled by the waveguide dimensions and can be tailored precisely for specific applications. Compared with previously published atomic cladded waveguides, our new device allows for a substantial reduction of Doppler and transit time broadening and improves the vapour coherence time. Furthermore, it practically eliminates the van der Waals shift and drastically reduces the light shift by two orders of magnitude. We have shown the usefulness of the device as a frequency reference with instability below 50 kHz. The demonstrated approach could also be used for other diverse applications that benefit from accurate and precise light–vapour applications, for example, magnetometry, quantum storage, atomic clocks, high-spatial-resolution field sensors and all-optical switching.

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Fig. 1: NASWAG device and absorption signatures.
Fig. 2: Van der Waals shift of different NASWAGs and frequency stabilization measurment.
Fig. 3: Velocity selective optical pumping measurement.
Fig. 4: Velocity selective optical pumping measurement with added buffer gas.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information. Further source data will be made available on reasonable request.

Code availability

The Matlab code used to solve the equations presented in the Supplementary Information will be made available on reasonable request.


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We thank L. Stern and E. Talker for fruitful discussions. The NASWAGS were fabricated at the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The research was supported by the European Research Council (ERC-LIVIN 648575), the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Israeli Science Foundation.

Author information




R.Z. designed and performed the experiments, analysed the data, designed and fabricated the device and wrote the paper. Y.B. and N.M. fabricated the device. U.L. supervised the project, designed the experiments and wrote the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Roy Zektzer or Uriel levy.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Photonics thanks Juerg Leuthold and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–7, Sections 1–5, fabrication and simulation sections.

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Zektzer, R., Mazurski, N., Barash, Y. et al. Nanoscale atomic suspended waveguides for improved vapour coherence times and optical frequency referencing. Nat. Photon. 15, 772–779 (2021).

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