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Atomic Physics: Precise Measurements and Ultracold Matter$
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Massimo Inguscio and Leonardo Fallani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198525844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525844.001.0001

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Alkali atoms and laser cooling

Alkali atoms and laser cooling

Chapter:
(p.31) 2 Alkali atoms and laser cooling
Source:
Atomic Physics: Precise Measurements and Ultracold Matter
Author(s):

Massimo Inguscio

Leonardo Fallani

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525844.003.0002

This chapter starts with the spectrum of alkali atoms, which have a very similar electronic structure to hydrogen. It describes the hyperfine structure of alkali atoms in the context of the development of microwave atomic clocks that currently provide the definition of the SI second. The simple and accessible electronic transitions of alkali atoms were used for the first demonstration of laser cooling, the revolutionary approach to atomic physics developed in the '80s, which the chapter discusses with a review of its most important configurations (optical molasses, magneto-optical traps, sub-Doppler cooling). The application of laser cooling to the development of very precise atomic clocks and to the field of atom interferometry is also covered.

Keywords:   alkali atoms, atomic clocks, optical molasses, laser cooling, magneto-optical traps, atom interferometers

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