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Using Atom Optics to Measure van der Waals Atom-Surface Interactions

by Perreault, John D.

Abstract (Summary)
Atom-surface interactions are becoming an integral part of the field of atom optics. Here the role of van der Waals atom-surface interactions in atom wave diffraction and interferometry are investigated. In particular, it is shown that van der Waals interactions influence the intensity and phase of atomic diffraction patterns obtained from material gratings. As a result the atomic diffraction patterns are utilized to make an accurate determination of the interaction strength and verify the spatial variation of the atom-surface potential. A theory for describing the modified atom wave diffraction patterns is developed through an analogy with optical waves. An atom interferometer is used to directly measure the de Broglie wave phase shift induced by atom-surface interactions. More specifically, the phases of the zeroth, first, and second diffraction orders are measured. A proposal for using electromagnetic fields to modify the van der Waals interaction is put forth. Several of the important experimental components for observing such an effect are also demonstrated. 13
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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