Trapping atoms in a gravitational cavity
- Cite this article as:
- Wallis, H., Dalibard, J. & Cohen-Tannoudji, C. Appl. Phys. B (1992) 54: 407. doi:10.1007/BF00325387
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This paper is devoted to the study of a new atomic cavity consisting of a single horizontal concave mirror placed in the earth gravitational field. Gravity, by bending the atomic trajectories, plays the role of a second mirror closing the cavity. We first discuss the stability criterion for this cavity, assuming that the mirror has a parabolic shape. We then derive the quantum mechanical modes of such a configuration, with particular emphasis on the paraxial (i.e., close to vertical) motion. Finally, we discuss the possibility of populating those modes from an initial cold atomic cloud dropped above the mirror.