Abstract

Based on the real sense of the time-of-flight , we demonstrate an alternative method of measuring the temperature of cold atoms in magneto-optical traps (MOTs) using a high-finesse optical microcavity, which acts as a pointlike single-atom counter. A cloud of atoms trapped in magneto-optical traps is positioned about 5mm above the cavity, and the atoms fall freely down through the cavity. The temperature of the cold atoms in the MOT is determined by counting the exact arrival times of the single atoms. A theoretical model based on a ballistic expansion of a cloud of trapped atoms falling in the earth’s gravitational field is used to fit the probability distribution of atom arrivals, and the fittings agree very well with the experimental results. This method could be used for systems with little room, where an extra probe beam is hard to involve, or with fewer atoms initially.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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