Seconds-scale coherence on an optical clock transition in a tweezer array

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Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 93-97
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay0644

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Building up an optical clock

Arrays of optical tweezers can be used to trap atoms, which can then be manipulated individually. Such arrays have shown promise in quantum simulation of many-body systems. Norcia et al. now demonstrate that they can also be used as a platform for optical clocks. The researchers lined up 10 optical tweezers in a one-dimensional array, where each tweezer held either one or zero atoms of strontium. The atoms were subjected to laser light whose frequency was tuned to a clock transition in strontium. By monitoring the number of atoms in each tweezer, the researchers measured a long coherence time of a few seconds. Increasing the number of tweezers should improve the figures of merit of this platform.

Science, this issue p. 93


Coherent control of high–quality factor optical transitions in atoms has revolutionized precision frequency metrology. Leading optical atomic clocks rely on the interrogation of such transitions in either single ions or ensembles of neutral atoms to stabilize a laser frequency at high precision and accuracy. We demonstrate a platform that combines the key strengths of these two approaches, based on arrays of individual strontium atoms held within optical tweezers. We report coherence times of 3.4 seconds, single-ensemble duty cycles up to 96% through repeated interrogation, and frequency stability of 4.7 × 10−16 (τ/s)–1/2. These results establish optical tweezer arrays as a powerful tool for coherent control of optical transitions for metrology and quantum information science.

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