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Title: A microwave trap for atoms and molecules
Author: Wright, Sidney Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 9350 9534
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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Trapping particles is a key starting point for a range of physics experiments. The ability to confine, manipulate and interrogate a trapped species enables an invaluable degree of control and precision. Each trap offers different advantages and possibilities, and emerging experiments often demand different methods of trapping. This thesis describes a new three-dimensional microwave trap for atoms and molecules. Like an optical dipole trap, it can trap ground state polar molecules, but its depth and volume are larger by factors of 10^3 and 10^9 respectively. The experiment consists of a lithium oven, Zeeman slower, magneto-optical trap (MOT), a moving magnetic trap, and a high-quality Fabry-Perot cavity which serves as the microwave trap. Starting from a MOT of 1×10^8 lithium-7 atoms, the atomic cloud is cooled from a temperature of around 1mK to 41(1)μK with the recently developed Raman grey molasses method. Next, the population is optically pumped to a magnetically trappable state, and up to 85(2)% are loaded into a quadrupole magnetic trap. These atoms are then transferred to a moving magnetic trap and translated 600mm to the centre of the microwave cavity. After optimizing the transport to minimize atom heating and loss, we can produce samples of 2×10^7 atoms in the microwave chamber, at a phase space density of 3.58(15)×10^7. Finally, loading of the microwave trap is demonstrated and its basic properties studied. When the input power to the cavity is 610W, the electric field amplitude at the centre reaches roughly 20kV/cm. At this input power, centre-of-mass oscillation frequencies in the microwave trap were measured as 28.55(5)Hz along the axis of the cavity, and 8.81(8)Hz along the orthogonal direction. The observed lifetime was 1.76(12)s, limited by the vacuum quality. The atomic cloud expands and cools to 22(3)μK when loaded into the microwave trap, with a phase space density of 4(1)×10^7. This is consistent with adiabatic loading from the magnetic trap.
Supervisor: Tarbutt, Michael ; Hinds, Edward Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral