Microchips for cold atoms: from quantum science to portable devices
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
The field of ultracold atoms links atomic and condensed matter physics. The development of laser cooling and trapping techniques, including the ability to routinely produce quantum degenerate gases, has advanced to the point where non-trivial complex quantum systems can be prepared and controlled, and their subsequent evolution can be observed. This ability opens the path to investigations of non-equilibrium dynamics of interacting quantum many-body systems and device-oriented quantum technology development alike. In this talk we will introduce the concept of an atom chip and show how such a miniaturized and integrated manipulation toolbox for quantum gases leads to a large variety of new possibilities for both fundamental science and applied technology. We will discuss first cold atom devices that are already leaving the laboratory. At the same time, new materials and geometries, such as graphene films, provide means to further miniaturization. Here the separation of a nanokelvin trapped gas and a room-temperature solid can be reduced to well within a micron. New possibilities for studies of dynamics arise in this regime, in which the gas’s environment can be tailored with a resolution beyond relevant intrinsic length scales (healing length). Conversely, a quantum gas trapped at a micron or less distance from a surface is a highly sensitive probe for structure and transport within the solid, where high spatial resolution and field sensitivity are uniquely combined.