A wire trap for neutral atoms
- Cite this article as:
- Schmiedmayer, J. Appl. Phys. B (1995) 60: 169. doi:10.1007/BF01135859
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We present new ways of trapping a neutral atom with static electric and magnetic fields. We discuss the interaction of a neutral atom with the magnetic field of a current carrying wire and the electric field of a charged wire. Atoms can be trapped by the 1/r magnetic field of a current-carrying wire in a two-dimensional trap. The atoms move in Kepler-like orbits around the wire and angular momentum prevents them from being absorbed at the wire. Trapping was demonstrated in an experiment by guiding atoms along a 1 m long current-carrying wire. Stable traps using the interaction of a polarizable atom with the electric field of a charged wire alone are not possible because of the 1/r2 form of the interaction potential. Nevertheless, we show that one can build a microscopic trap with a combination of a magnetic field generated by a current in a straight wire and the static electric field generated by a concentric charged ring which provides the longitudinal confinement. In all of these traps, the neutral atoms are trapped in a region of maximal field, in theirhigh-field seeking state.