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15th Day of Christmas: Zeeman Slower

This Advent during the 24 days leading up to Christmas I thought it would be fun to have a quick introduction of scientific apparatus, in particular tools used in atomic physics research. This is a way to say thanks to their hard work for our research, and a look at how many things are really needed to make a laboratory work!

Zeeman Slower

In experimental physics, we quite often need to take a couple of intermediate steps to get from an initial system (e.g. hot, sparse atoms) to the final, desired state (e.g. cold, dense atoms to do the experiments with). The intermediate steps in that example would be successive cooling and condensing of atoms. Maybe start with an oven emitting hot atoms at around 500°C (773K), and ending up with 0.001K and lower in a Magneto-Optical Trap (even lower if continuing more advanced cooling processes). The first big step in the cooling process is helped by a device called the Zeeman slower.

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