Abstract

A fluorescence detection scheme coupled to a highly sensitive nitrogen-cooled CCD camera is used to image the spatial distribution of a low-density falling rubidium atomic cloud released from an optical trap. The falling cloud passes through a thin probe laser beam tuned to resonance. The performance of the scheme is illustrated in the analysis of cold atomic clouds collimated by pinholes during their free fall under the influence of gravity. Clouds of approximately 104 atoms and with typically 106 at./cm3 density are analyzed spatially with 24-μm resolution. This method is compared with different atomic cloud imaging techniques.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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