Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swinging of a single atom

17.12.2009
Real time optoelectronic feedback stabilizes the orbit of a moving atom

A father pushing his little child on a swing realizes a complex feedback procedure: the signal of the approaching swing is processed in his brain and actuated by his arms pushing with the right power and at the right moment.


Figure: Artist\'s view of the feedback scheme: A single atom placed between two highly reflecting mirrors reveals information about its position by emitting single photons (yellow wave packets). These photons are converted into digital electrical pulses (yellow spheres) and processed in an electronic feedback circuit. The circuit emits an electric current (blue spheres), which alters the intensity of a blue laser (blue valley). This feedback loop swings the atom depending on its measured position. MPQ-Quantum Dynamics

The fast feedback logic developed by a team of scientists around Prof. Gerhard Rempe, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and head of the Quantum Dynamics Division, works quite similar: the system reacts, in real time, on the motion of a single atom orbiting in an optical cavity (Nature, N° 2009-08-10110A, DOI: 10.1038/nature08563).

Individual photons emitted by the atom and carrying information about the atomic position trigger a feedback mechanism that pushes the atom in a direction determined by the experimentalist. This allows him to control the motion of the atom. It increases the time the atom spends in the cavity by a factor of four, but is - even more important - a step towards the exploration of the quantum trajectory of a single atom at a level allowed by Heisenberg's position-momentum uncertainty relation.

The experiment starts by cooling a dilute cloud of neutral rubidium atoms with laser light down to a temperature of a few microkelvin. The cold cloud is then launched - like a fountain - towards a high-finesse optical resonator, made of two highly reflecting mirrors separated by about one tenth of a millimeter. Upon arrival in the resonator, one single atom is captured by suddenly turning on optical tweezers in form of a focused standing laser light wave reflected back and fro between the mirrors. As the trapped atom is sensitive to a variety of different forces, its motion consists of a regular oscillation around the resonator axis superimposed by a strong erratic motion in all directions. This makes the trajectory of the atom unpredictable on time scales not much longer than the oscillation period, typically less than a thousandth of a second.

Now a second laser comes into play that is used as the input signal of the feedback loop. It probes the position of the atom: if no atom is in the resonator, the light of this laser is fully transmitted through both mirrors. If an atom is placed in the center of the resonator the light is blocked and the photon flux drops to rates as low as 0.03 photons per millionth of a second. When the atom moves away from the resonator axis, trying to leave the resonator, more light is transmitted. The position of the atom is thus encoded in the intensity of the transmitted light. To read this information, the photons leaving the resonator are registered by a sensitive detector for two consecutive time intervals of equal duration, the so-called exposure time.

In case more photons are detected in the second time interval than in the first time interval, it is concluded that the atom is trying to escape the resonator. To prevent this, the light intensity of the optical tweezers is ramped up, pushing the atom back to the resonator axis. In case fewer photons are detected in the second time interval, the atom is assumed to approach the cavity axis and the power of the optical tweezers is lowered. This reduces the energy of the atom and leads to an efficient cooling of the atom. The atom can also be heated by inverting the feedback logic. This rapidly expels the atom out of the resonator. "It is important to note that the feedback is triggered by each detected photon. If the number of detected photons goes up from 0 to 1, the intensity of the optical tweezers is ramped up almost immediately, in a time interval that is 70 times shorter than the oscillation period of the atom", Alexander Kubanek, PhD student in the Quantum Dynamics Division explains. "Actually, we have to pay attention that the exposure time is neither too short nor too long", he specifies. "For very short times the information about the position of the atom is insufficient to trigger the desired feedback. If on the other hand the exposure times are too long, the feedback is delayed, leading to a reaction out-of-phase with the atomic oscillatory motion. So we have to choose exposure times that are long enough to give information on the position of the atom, but are yet much shorter than the oscillation period of the atom in the optical tweezers."

The feedback mechanism increases the storage time for a single atom from about six milliseconds without feedback to 24 milliseconds with feedback. Longer storage times exceeding 250 milliseconds are achieved by a more sophisticated technique. But more important than the mere prolongation of the storage times are the quantum mechanical implications of the experiment. "It proves that reliable position information can be obtained by quasi-continuous measurements", Prof. Gerhard Rempe points out. "In the future this might allow us to steer an individual quantum trajectory with a precision ultimately determined by Heisenberg's uncertainty relation or even protect the quantum state of a trapped particle against the disastrous influence of fluctuations stemming from the atom's environment." [Olivia Meyer-Streng]

Original publication:
A. Kubanek, M. Koch, C. Sames, A. Ourjoumtsev, P.W.H. Pinkse, K. Murr, G. Rempe
Photon-by-photon feedback control of a single-atom trajectory
Nature, N° 2009-08-10110A, DOI 10.1038/nature08563, 17.12.2009
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Rempe
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Hans-Kopfermann-Straße 1
85748 Garching
Phone: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 701
Fax: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 311
e-mail: gerhard.rempe@mpq.mpg.de
Alexander Kubanek
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Phone: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 296
Fax: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 395
e-mail: alexander.kubanek@mpq.mpg.de
Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng
Press & Public Relations Office
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Phone: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 213
Fax: +49 (0)89 / 32905 - 200
e-mail: olivia.meyer-streng@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpq.mpg.de

Further reports about: DOI Max Planck Institute Optic Quantum laser light optical tweezer single atom

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core
20.06.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien e. V.

nachricht New material for splitting water
19.06.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>