Fringe contrast in three grating Mach-Zehnder atomic interferometers
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Several three-grating Mach-Zehnder atomic interferometers have been built and operated in recent years but no general theory of the contrast of the fringes produced by these apparatus is available. The purpose of this paper is to develop this theory, based on the Fresnel-Kirchoff approximate treatment of diffraction. Such a theory has been developed by Turchette et al. [JOSA B 9, 1601 (1992)] but because the necessary multiple integrals were evaluated in a purely numerical way, this treatment was not fully general. We show here how to reduce the computation by analytic means and we are thus able to calculate the contrast with a modest numerical effort. Moreover, we get a simple insight of the contrast reduction related to several defects of a real apparatus. We apply our calculations to existing interferometers as well as to an apparatus working with lithium which is under construction in our laboratory.
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