Glowing Atomic Clover

 Second Place Award

Glowing Atomic Clover Image


Yifei Bai and Jared Pagett
Graduate Students

Weld Lab


Atoms cooled to almost absolute zero are ideal sources for emerging quantum technology. However, a typical apparatus usually takes up most space of an entire lab. This image shows our attempt at a compact, low-power apparatus trapping millions of Strontium (Sr) atoms inside.

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Every atom is a perfect quantum machine. Sr, for example, is used to build the world’s most precise clock. Typically, to prepare any experiment using atoms cooled to near absolute zero, we need to first vaporize the atom source by raising its temperature to 1000F. Then, we need several stages of cooling using multiple lasers, long transport tubes, and high-power magnets. The resulting apparatus is large and power-consuming. Here, the apparatus uses only a source at room temperature instead of one at 1000F, and a much smaller trapping chamber with a clover-shaped, low-power magnet. The lasers are oriented around the chamber at specific angles and provide the necessary optical interactions to trap atoms inside. The trapped atoms scatter the blue laser light, producing a glowing clover.