Applied Physics

Mapping Microwaves

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Science  27 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5995, pp. 997
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5995.997-c
CREDIT: BÖHI ET AL., APPL. PHYS. LETT. 97, 51101 (2010)

Microwave electronics find application across a number of fields such as radar, communications, and imaging. Integrated microwave circuits formed with superconducting components are currently being explored for applications in quantum electronics and on-chip atom manipulation. These latter applications tend to be extremely sensitive to the circuit geometry and electric current distributions, both of which may often be complex. In this context, Böhi et al. have used a cloud of cold rubidium atoms to characterize and map out the magnetic component of a microwave circuit. The atoms are prepared in an initial state sensitive to local magnetic fields. As the atoms sense the effect of the magnetic field generated in the circuit, they drop out of their initial state. Absorption imaging with a laser beam can then probe the extent of the fall-out over a relatively large area, with high spatial resolution (down to micrometer length scales). The technique thereby provides a detailed snapshot of the magnetic component of the microwave field, allowing circuits to be optimized and redesigned for best performance.

Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 51101 (2010).

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