Future frequency Standards based on rf or optical atomic transitions will gain much precision from laser-cooled atoms, typically accessible in magneto-optical traps and molasses. In this respect magnesium possesses an attractive V-level scheme with the possible 457-nm clock transition offering a natural linewidth of only 30 Hz and the fast and closed 1S01P1 two-level transition (λ = 285 nm, τ ≃ ns) offering manipulation. In the experiment described here Mg24 atoms were captured in a magneto-optical trap1 (see Fig. 1) with storage times of typically a few seconds and a density of approximately 108 atoms/cm3 in a volume of (300 μm)3.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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