Applied Physics B

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 217–256 | Cite as

Precision measurement of ℏ/mCs based on photon recoil using laser-cooled atoms and atomic interferometry

  • D. S. Weiss
  • B. C. Young
  • S. Chu
Invited Paper


The recoil of an atom due to the absorption of up to 64 photons is measured, using laser-cooled cesium atoms which are made to interfere in an atomic fountain. Measurement of the photon recoil allows a determination of ℏ/mCs, and hence the fine-structure constant. The measurement is described and a detailed theoretical and experimental study of potential systematic errors is presented. A relative precision in the photon recoil measurement of 0.1 ppm is obtained in two hours of data collection. The measurement is currently 0.85 ppm below the accepted value of ℏ/mCs. We cannot now formally ascribe a systematic error, but suspect that the bulk of the discrepancy is due to imperfections of the interferometer beams used to induce the Raman transitions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Weiss
    • 1
  • B. C. Young
    • 1
  • S. Chu
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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