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Microwave Manipulation of an Atomic Electron in a Classical Orbit

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Science  18 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5716, pp. 1757-1760
DOI: 10.1126/science.1108470

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Abstract

Although an atom is a manifestly quantum mechanical system, the electron in an atom can be made to move in a classical orbit almost indefinitely if it is exposed to a weak microwave field oscillating at its orbital frequency. The field effectively tethers the electron, phase-locking its motion to the oscillating microwave field. By exploiting this phase-locking, we have sped up or slowed down the orbital motion of the electron in excited lithium atoms by increasing or decreasing the microwave frequency between 13 and 19 gigahertz; the binding energy and orbital size change concurrently.

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