Dynamic atom optics to produce ultraslow, ultracold helium atoms: Design study and possible applications

R. Bruce Doak, K. Kevern, Andrew Chizmeshya, Rudolf David, George Comsa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Atoms, unlike photons, travel at velocities readily attainable in the laboratory, making possible novel atom optical devices based on optical elements which move relative to the atomic beam. We report design studies of a device to accelerate or decelerate and simultaneously monochromatize a helium atomic beam. A helium supersonic free-jet (v equals 950 m/s, (Delta) v equals 5 m/s, FWHM) is reflected from a moving surface to produce an output beam is continuously tunable in velocity from epithermal (2000 m/s) to ultra-slow (ca. 1 m/s, De Broglie wavelength 1000 angstroms). The decelerator is highly dispersive in the low velocity regime, making the collimated ultra-slow output beam nearly monochromatic, i.e. ultra-cold. Measured properties of an actual supersonic helium free-jet expansion were used in Monte Carlo simulations of the decelerator to predict the attainable decelerated beam properties. Ultra- slow beams of usable intensity at T < 100 nK appear attainable. Finite element stress calculations for a magnetically suspended rotor verify that the necessary reflector velocities (475 m/s) can be safely achieved. Possible applications of an ultra-cold helium beam might include gas-surface scattering experiments to probe 'quantum reflection' of atoms from surfaces and to measure gas- surface bound states of exceptionally low binding energy, thereby testing the contributions of retardation to the gas- surface potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 1997
EventAtom Optics - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 10 1997Feb 10 1997


OtherAtom Optics
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Atom optics
  • Gas-surface scattering
  • Quantum reflection
  • Supersonic helium atomic beam
  • Ultra-cold atoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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