Abstract

We propose a new scheme for constructing a single-beam dark optical trap that minimizes light-induced perturbations of the trapped atoms. The proposed scheme optimizes the trap depth for given trapping laser power and detuning by creating a light envelope with (a) an almost minimal surface area for a given volume and (b) the minimal wall thickness that is allowed by diffraction. The stiffness of the trap’s walls, combined with the large detuning allowed by the efficient distribution of light intensity, yields a low spontaneous photon scattering rate for the trapped atoms. Our trap also optimizes the loading efficiency by maximizing the geometrical overlap between a magneto-optical trap and the dipole trap. We demonstrate this new scheme by generating the proposed light distribution of a single-beam dark trap with a trap depth that is ∼33 times larger than that of existing blue-detuned traps and ∼13 times larger than that of a red-detuned trap with the same diameter, detuning, and laser power. Trapped atoms are predicted to have a decoherence rate that is >200 times smaller than in existing single-beam dark traps and ∼1800 times smaller than in a red-detuned trap with the same diameter, depth, and laser power.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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