A team of scientists working on the island of Crete have created the world’s most powerful atom laser – fully seven times stronger than any developed to date. The new ‘ultra-bright atom laser’ was presented in a paper submitted to the international science periodical “New Journal of Physics” published on March 28.
One of about a dozen involved in this sector worldwide, the team is based at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser at the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH) in Crete, led by the German physicist Wolf von Klitzing and with postgraduate researcher Vasiliki Bolpasi heading the list of authors.
The other collaborators included Nikos Efremidis of the University of Crete‘s Applied Mathematics Department, Pavlos Condylis of the Quantum Technology Centre at the National University of Singapore, Michael Morrissey and Mark Baker from FORTH and Daniel Sahagun from Singapore.
Atom lasers emit beams of matter instead of the beams of light emitted by conventional optical lasers, with millions of atoms taking the place of photons in a cohesive beam.
Now still at an early stage, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved before atom lasers can find practical applications. According to the researchers, among the most exciting possible applications for a bright atom laser will be a matter–wave interferometer, where the wave-nature of the atoms will be exploited to make ultra-accurate measurements of gravitation or rotation or to probe the magnetic and electric properties of surfaces.