Manipulation of cold atoms by an adaptable magnetic reflector
Adaptive optics for cold atoms has been experimentally realized by applying a bias magnetic field to a static magnetic mirror. The mirror consist of a 12-mm-diameter piece of commercial videotape, having a sine wave of wavelength 25.4 μm recorded in a single track across its width, curved to form a concave reflector with radius of curvature R=54 mm. We have studied the performance of the mirror by monitoring the evolution of a 24 μK cloud of 85Rb atoms bouncing on it. A uniform static external magnetic field was added to the mirror field causing a corrugated potential from which the atoms bounce with increased angular spread. The characteristic angular distribution of the surface normal is mapped at the peak of the bounce for atoms dropped from a height of R/2 and at the peak of the second bounce for a drop height of R/4. In a second experiment a time-dependent magnetic field was applied and the angular distribution of the cloud was measured as a function of field frequency. In this scheme we demonstrate a corrugated potential whose time-dependent magnitude behaves like a diffraction grating of variable depth. Finally a rotating field was added to generate a corrugated potential that moves with a velocity given by the product of the external field rotation frequency and the videotape wavelength. This travelling grating provides a new method of manipulation as cold atoms are transported across the surface by surfing along the moving wave. Two theoretical methods have been developed to predict the behaviour of atoms reflecting from these stationary, variable magnitude and moving corrugated potentials. A simple analytic theory provides excellent agreement for reflection from a stationary corrugated potential and gives good agreement when extended to the case of a travelling grating. A Monte Carlo simulation was also performed by brute force numeric integration of the equations of motion for atoms reflecting from all three corrugated potential cases.
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