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Title: Magnetic transport and Bose-Einstein condensation of rubidium atoms
Author: Sheard, Benjamin T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 4701
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis describes the design, construction and optimisation of a new apparatus to produce Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) of 87Rb atoms. The main aim in building this system was to include a high resolution imaging system capable of resolving single atoms. Optical access for the imaging system was created by including a stage of atom transport in which the atoms are magnetically transferred ~50 cm from a magneto-optical trap (MOT), where they are initially collected, to a glass science cell where experiments are carried out and imaging takes place. Two magnetic transport schemes have been demonstrated, based on approaches first used in other laboratories. First, a scheme in which the atoms are transferred in a moving pair of magnetic trapping coils. Second, a hybrid scheme where the atoms are translated part of the distance in the moving coils, and the rest of the way by switching the current in a chain of fixed coils. This second scheme was designed to allow optical access for a high numerical aperture microscope objective to be placed immediately next to the science cell for high resolution imaging. The atoms were first collected in a large pyramid MOT which can be loaded with 3 × 10^9 atoms in a time of 20 s. Around half of these atoms – those in the |F = 1, mF = −1> magnetic substate – were then magnetically trapped prior to transport. The typical fraction of the trapped atoms transferred to the science cell was ~30% and ~18% for the moving coils and hybrid schemes respectively. Evaporative cooling was carried out on the atom cloud following transport with the moving coils and loading into a time-orbiting potential trap. The optimised cooling sequence lasted for 28 s and consistently produced a pure condensate with 5 × 10^5 atoms. A BEC has also been produced by evaporative cooling following hybrid transport. The next experimental steps will be to optimise the hybrid transfer approach further and install the high resolution imaging system. The system is well-placed to continue an ongoing series of experiments in which ultracold atoms are trapped in RF-dressed potentials. These potentials will be used to study low-dimensional quantum gases as well as in experiments where small atom number BECs are rapidly rotated to enter the fractional quantum Hall regime.
Supervisor: Foot, Christopher J. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Atomic and laser physics ; Bose-Einstein Condensation ; Rubidium ; Magnetic transport ; RF-dressed potentials