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An experiment to observe quantum reflection of atoms from an attractive potential


Usual atomic mirrors are based on the reflection of atoms by a repulsive potential that is created by an evanescent light field, detuned to the blue of an atomic transition. However, Quantum Mechanics predicts that reflection may also occur from an attractive potential ( red detuning ), provided that the de Broglie wavelength of the atoms is larger than the scale of the potential. Quantum reflection has already been investigated in the case of cold spin-polarised hydrogen interaction with a liquid helium surface, but interpretation of the experiment has generated some debate. This project aims to demonstrate quantum reflection in a new situation using the well understood potential due to the interaction of an atom and an evanescent light wave. State-of-the-art techniques in laser cooling will be required to produce metastable helium atoms below the single photon recoil limit.


Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

91403 Orsay

Participants (1)

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