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Scientists Develop Device For Portable, Ultra-Precise Clocks and Quantum Sensors

A micro-fabricated diffraction grating.

A micro-fabricated diffraction grating generating four new beams from a single incoming beam of light.

A new portable device developed at the University of Strathclyde can produce ultra-cold atoms for quantum technology and quantum information processing.

The researchers say the technology is far more compact than previous setups, but it can still cool and trap large numbers of atoms for use in portable devices.

The researchers patterned the surface of a semiconductor chip to form a diffraction grating, splitting a laser into many beams that cool the atom. "These specially micro-fabricated diffraction gratings create the perfect laser beams for trapping and cooling atoms," says Imperial College London professor Ed Hinds.

The National Physical Laboratory's Alastair Sinclair says "the miniaturization of atomic sensors using these optical gratings can make an important contribution to metrology and high-precision measurement."

Strathclyde's Aidan Arnold reports that the longer transition of atoms can be monitored, the more accurately they can be measured. "It is possible to shine laser light on atoms to slow them down using the Doppler effect," he notes. "We can now do this in a really small device."

From University of Strathclyde
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