Laser cooling and trapping is the ability to cool atoms down to unprecedented kinetic temperatures, and to confine and support isolated atoms in “atom traps”. This unique new level of control of atomic motion allows researchers to study the behavior of atoms and quantum mechanical properties.
Different atomic cooling techniques exist, e.g. Doppler cooling, Sub–Doppler technique (used when the Doppler limit is reached – natural linewidth of the atomic transition), and atom evaporation in a Bose-Einstein condensate to slow the atom further.
Typical applications include time/frequency standards (atomic clocks), GPS systems and navigation, research on fundamental constants, quantum information (computing and encryption), and atom interferometry (gravitational detection of natural resources, potentially oil & gas).
For resonant laser cooling, a very precise wavelength is required to match a specific atomic/ion transition, making DFB fiber lasers ideal. Often, lasers with a linewidth narrower than the atomic transition are required.
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