Abstract

We measure the number of atoms N trapped in a conventional vapor-cell magneto-optic trap (MOT) using beams that have a diameter d in the range 1–5 mm. We show that the Nd3.6 scaling law observed for larger MOTs is a robust approximation for optimized MOTs with beam diameters as small as 3 mm. For smaller beams, the description of the scaling depends on how d is defined. The most consistent picture of the scaling is obtained when d is defined as the diameter where the intensity profile of the trapping beams decreases to the saturation intensity. Using this definition, N scales as d6 for d<2.3mm but, at larger d, N still scales as d3.6.

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