New frontiers in quantum electrodynamics and quantum optics · 1990

Atom Optics

David W. Keith and David E. Pritchard

By atom optics we mean the rich collection of emerging techniques by which atoms may be manipulated in the manner of light in classical optics. Existing atom optical elements include mirrors, lenses, and diffractive optics including beam splitters as well as dissipative elements such as slowers, ‘coolers’, and traps which have no analogue in classical optics. To date, these atom optical elements have been realized as demonstrations of principal, we hope that we will soon see some of them used as tools in real experiments. We must caution the reader that this paper is intended as a introduction and enticement to atom optics, not as an exhaustive survey. Most of the paper will be devoted to atom interferometers; first general comments on beam splitters and interferometer geometries, then a detailed look at the one we are currently constructing, and finally a discussion of a few possible experiments with atom interferometers. The final section of the paper will describe an assortment of atom optical elements, concluding with a return to nearer term experimental realities — the need for the rapid development of atom sources that are both slow and bright.

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