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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Optical Metrology

Jan Rudolph, Waldemar Herr, Christoph Grzeschik, Tammo Sternke, Alexander Grote, Manuel Popp, Dennis Becker, Hauke Müntinga, Holger Ahlers, Achim Peters, Claus Lämmerzahl, Klaus Sengstock, Naceur Gaaloul, Wolfgang Ertmer, and Ernst M Rasel (2015)

A high-flux BEC source for mobile atom interferometers

New Journal of Physics, 17.

Quantum sensors based on coherent matter-waves are precise measurement devices whose ultimate accuracy is achieved with Bose–Einstein condensates (BECs) in extended free fall. This is ideally realized in microgravity environments such as drop towers, ballistic rockets and space platforms. However, the transition from lab-based BEC machines to robust and mobile sources with comparable performance is a challenging endeavor. Here we report on the realization of a miniaturized setup, generating a flux of 4*10^5 quantum degenerate 87Rb atoms every 1.6 s. Ensembles of 1*10^5 atoms can be produced at a 1 Hz rate. This is achieved by loading a cold atomic beam directly into a multi-layer atom chip that is designed for efficient transfer from laser-cooled to magnetically trapped clouds. The attained flux of degenerate atoms is on par with current lab-based BEC experiments while offering significantly higher repetition rates. Additionally, the flux is approaching those of current interferometers employing Raman-type velocity selection of laser-cooled atoms. The compact and robust design allows for mobile operation in a variety of demanding environments and paves the way for transportable high-precision quantum sensors.