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Sub-Poissonian Fluctuations by Three-body Loss in Mesoscopic Atomic Ensembles

Dr Shannon Whitlock

Van der Waals-Zeeman Instituut, Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3:30 pm Friday, 20 August 2010,
EN413 (EN Building), Hawthorn.

The study and control of particle number fluctuations has revealed a rich variety of intriguing quantum phenomena in ultracold quantum gases, such as atom (anti)bunching effects, many-body correlations, squeezing and entanglement. We have realized a novel magnetic lattice atom chip using permanent magnetic films to create a vast two-dimensional array of magnetic microtraps for ultracold atoms. Rapid density-dependent three-body atom loss observed in these tightly confining traps are a robust way to prepare small ensembles comprising tens to hundreds of atoms each. Remarkably, random three-body loss also naturally reduces intrinsic shot-to-shot atom number fluctuations below the Poissonian level, analogous to intensity squeezing in optics. This system is ideal for creating collective excitations via laser excited Rydberg states to engineer interactions between atoms. We have performed the first experiments with Rydberg atoms excited on an atom chip and have observed significant effects due to the nearby metallic surface.

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