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

Abstract

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/m Cs, 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/m Cs. 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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Weiss, D.S., Young, B.C. & Chu, S. Precision measurement of ℏ/m Cs based on photon recoil using laser-cooled atoms and atomic interferometry. Appl. Phys. B 59, 217–256 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01081393

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