METROLOGY

An on-chip cold-atom gravimeter

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Science  09 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6317, pp. 1246-1247
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6317.1246-f

Gravimeters sense tiny changes in the local gravitational field and are used in geological studies, mineral exploration, and civil engineering to detect underground voids. Typically the size and weight of a small microwave oven, their operation is mechanical: A test mass pulls on a sensitive spring, and any difference in extension is compared with a reference point. Cold atoms cooled to their quantum ground state offer a quantum mechanical approach for detecting gravity. Abend et al. have developed an onchip cold-atom interferometer in which the active part of the sensor, including atom cooling and interference, takes up less than a cubic centimeter. The on-chip approach offers the prospect of compact and sensitive gravimeters for field deployment.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 203003 (2016).

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