Compensating for Atomic Dispersion

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Science  05 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5663, pp. 1439
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5663.1439d

Applications, such as atom interferometers, exploit the ability to cool atoms to low enough temperatures that their quantum mechanical wave properties become apparent. Clouds of cold atoms are split, sent down different paths, and brought together again, producing interference fringes on the scale of their de Broglie wavelength. However, movement and scattering of the atoms are also associated with dispersion, whereby the phases of the atom waves slip, leading to gradual loss of the contrast between fringes. Roberts et al. introduce a technique in which a specified phase shift is added to the atomic cloud in one part of the interferometer and then removed at another point. This manipulation can effectively compensate for the phase dispersion, re-establishing the contrast between the fringes, thus allowing more precise measurements to be made. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 0604405 (2004).

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