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Phys Rev Lett. 2000 Oct 30;85(18):3777-80.

Single atoms in an optical dipole trap: towards a deterministic source of cold atoms

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  • 1Institut fur Angewandte Physik, Universitat Bonn, Wegelerstrasse 8, D-53115 Bonn, Germany.


We describe a simple experimental technique which allows us to store a small and deterministic number of neutral atoms in an optical dipole trap. The desired atom number is prepared in a magneto-optical trap overlapped with a single focused Nd:YAG laser beam. Dipole trap loading efficiency of 100% and storage times of about one minute have been achieved. We have also prepared atoms in a certain hyperfine state and demonstrated the feasibility of a state-selective detection via resonance fluorescence at the level of a few neutral atoms. A spin relaxation time of the polarized sample of 4.2+/-0.7 s has been measured. Possible applications are briefly discussed.

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