Laser ablation loading of a radiofrequency ion trap
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The production of ions via laser ablation for the loading of radiofrequency (RF) ion traps is investigated using a nitrogen laser with a maximum pulse energy of 0.17 mJ and a peak intensity of about 250 MW/cm2. A time-of-flight mass spectrometer is used to measure the ion yield and the distribution of the charge states. Singly charged ions of elements that are presently considered for the use in optical clocks or quantum logic applications could be produced from metallic samples at a rate of the order of magnitude 105 ions per pulse. A linear Paul trap was loaded with Th+ ions produced by laser ablation. An overall ion production and trapping efficiency of 10−7 to 10−6 was attained. For ions injected individually, a dependence of the capture probability on the phase of the RF field has been predicted. In the experiment this was not observed, presumably because of collective effects within the ablation plume.
We thank Chr. Tamm for helpful discussions and D. Griebsch and Th. Leder for their expert technical support. This work was partially supported by DFG within the cluster of excellence QUEST. OAHS acknowledges support from ITCR, MICIT, and DAAD.