EPJ AP Highlight - Slowing dynamics of a supersonic beam

2D imaging of the slowed Ar* supersonic beam for a final velocity vF = 61 m/s. From this image, one can easily extract the beam divergence and the coherence radius with respect to the position and size of the effective source.

The present investigation of the slowing dynamics of a supersonic atom beam by a counter-propagating resonant laser light, in other words the dynamics of atoms in a so-called “Zeeman slower”, is characterized by two special features which are: (i) a close coupling between simulations and experiments using a nozzle beam of metastable argon atoms, (ii) the use in the simulations of a Monte-Carlo (MC) scheme aimed at analysing step by step (i.e. subsequent cycles of absorption-emission) the slowing process and describing in a realistic way atom random walks due to the spontaneous emission. It allows us to get calculated 2D images and radial profiles of the slowed beam, in good agreement with experiment. Other important characteristics as angular aperture, velocity spreads, coherence radius (not easy to be measured experimentally), etc. also result from the simulation. Since the 3D atomic motion within the laser field is considered, border effects can be studied, while they were not directly accessible in a simple radiative force model. It is finally shown that the experimental characteristics of the slowed beam are reproduced by the calculated ones, assuming a point- like source. In general a laser beam is an efficient tool to manipulate the atomic motion and its interaction with atoms can be accurately characterized by means of the present MC-code. Actually any configuration combining resonant light and atoms is relevant (provided that the semi-classical approximation is valid), in particular the use of a “pushing” laser to generate a slow atomic beam from a magneto-optical trap is a technique which has been successfully tested with metastable argon atoms. Here again the MC-code has been able to accurately predict the characteristics of the generated beam.

Slowing dynamics of a supersonic beam, simulation and experiments, M. Hamamda, T. Taillandier-Loize, J. Baudon, G. Dutier, F. Perales and M. Ducloy (2015), Eur. Phys. J. Appl. Phys., 71: 30502, DOI 10.1051/epjap/2015150266

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Aleksandra Wrońska, Jagiellonian University, Poland
Co-editor, EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 130 (2016)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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