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Real-time measurement and trapping of single atoms by single photons


Hood, Christina J. (2000) Real-time measurement and trapping of single atoms by single photons. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/41KH-2T46.


Cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED), the system of a single atom interacting with a single mode of a high finesse optical resonator, has tremendous potential for use in quantum logic, quantum information processing, and in enabling observation of quantum mechanical effects in the laboratory. The work of this thesis demonstrates a number of steps toward realizing these goals, by employing an experimental system with the strongest atom-field coupling achieved to date in optical cavity QED. The effects of strong coupling in cavity QED are studied for single cold atoms measured one at a time, in real time. The passage of single atoms through the cavity is employed to map out the frequency response of the system, and to demonstrate that quantum rather than semiclassical theory provides the correct theoretical model. The mechanical effects of strong coupling on single atoms are explored, these experiments demonstrating the first trapping of single atoms with single photons. Additionally, strong coupling enables high signal-to-noise ratio for monitoring atomic position at single photon field strengths; this capability is employed to investigate the motion of atoms trapped within the cavity. The transmitted cavity field is used to reconstruct the trajectories of single atoms, thereby realizing a new form of microscopy - the Atom-Cavity Microscope. Technical developments necessary to create the cavities used in this experiment are detailed. Ideas for future extensions to the experiment are proposed; a zero light-shift dipole force trap, and measurement of photon statistics of a single strongly coupled atom (which realizes a photon blockade device) are discussed.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kimble, H. Jeff
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 May 2000
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-09222005-105541
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3688
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:23 Sep 2005
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 18:42

Thesis Files

PDF (Hood_cj_2000.pdf) - Final Version
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