We predict a strong enhancement of the capture rate and the friction force for atoms crossing a driven high-Q cavity field if several near degenerate cavity modes are simultaneously coupled to the atom. In contrast to the case of a single TEM
00 mode, circular orbits are not stable and damping of the angular and radial motion occurs. Depending on the chosen atom-field detuning the atoms phase lock the cavity modes to create a localized field minimum or maximum at their current positions. This corresponds to a local potential minimum which the atom drags along with its motion. The stimulated photon redistribution between the modes then creates a large friction force. The effect is further enhanced if the atom is directly driven by a coherent field from the side. Several atoms in the field interact via the cavity modes, which leads to a strongly correlated motion.
© 2002 Optical Society of America
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