Ultrasensitive Isotope Trace Analyses with a Magneto-Optical Trap

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1139-1141
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1139

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Laser manipulation of neutral atoms has been used to count individual krypton-85 and krypton-81 atoms present in a natural krypton gas sample with isotopic abundances in the range of 10−11and 10−13, respectively. This method of isotope trace analysis is free of contamination from other isotopes and elements and can be applied to several different isotope tracers for a wide range of applications. The demonstrated detection efficiency is 1 × 10−7. System improvements could increase the efficiency by many orders of magnitude.

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