News of the WeekAtomic Physics

Atom Lasers Get More Laserlike

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Science  12 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5408, pp. 1611-1613
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5408.1611

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Researchers around the world are working to create "atom lasers," whose narrow beams of atoms could make measurements of length and time with unprecedented accuracy or even build microscopic structures atom by atom. But the few atom lasers built so far produce an output that is more like a blob than a beam and is propelled out of the device by gravity, so it can only be directed straight down. Now a team of researchers in the United States and Japan reports on page 1706 that by carefully nudging the atom cloud at the heart of an atom laser with light, they have produced an atom beam that is far more like a laser beam.