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Optics Letters

Optics Letters


  • Vol. 26, Iss. 6 — Mar. 15, 2001
  • pp: 364–366

Low-noise detection of ultracold atoms

J. M. McGuirk, G. T. Foster, J. B. Fixler, and M. A. Kasevich  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Letters, Vol. 26, Issue 6, pp. 364-366 (2001)

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We have demonstrated a new technique for detecting ultracold atoms. A balanced detection technique was used to reduce laser-induced detection noise in conjunction with modulation-transfer spectroscopy to distinguish cold atoms from a thermal cloud. Using this technique, we have achieved signal-to-noise ratios in excess of 2000:1.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(020.0020) Atomic and molecular physics : Atomic and molecular physics
(300.6210) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, atomic
(300.6380) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, modulation
(300.6460) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, saturation

J. M. McGuirk, G. T. Foster, J. B. Fixler, and M. A. Kasevich, "Low-noise detection of ultracold atoms," Opt. Lett. 26, 364-366 (2001)

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  8. This apparatus consisted of two atomic fountain–based, light-pulse accelerometers which simultaneously measured differential accelerations with high sensitivity and accuracy.
  9. The modulation depth was not a critical parameter, nor was the detuning of the probe beam and pump carrier beam so long as they had the same detuning.
  10. We defined this SNR as the ratio between the peak-to-peak fringe amplitude divided by the rms deviations of the residuals of the least-squares fit.
  11. Because of laser-induced detection noise, we must correlate noise fluctuations in two simultaneously detected atom ensembles in separate vacuum chambers, as in our gradiometer apparatus, to achieve this large SNR without balancing. The use of a balanced mode eliminated the need for this correlation.
  12. The amplitude-noise rejection was 40 dB over the detector bandwidth (dc to 10 MHz), which was measured with AM light on the detector. Frequency-noise rejection was characterized in two ways. High-frequency noise was driven at 2.5 kHz with an AOM during the atom detection (0.27 ms here) in the balanced mode. We studied low frequencies, making dc changes to the pump and probe detuning together in the balanced mode and measuring how balanced the detection remained. These two measurements gave similar noise-rejection levels.

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