Volume 73, Number 6, March 2006
|839 - 845
|The physics of elementary particles and fields
|08 February 2006
Measurement of the van der Waals force using reflection of cold atoms from magnetic thin-film atom mirrors
Fundamental Interactions Lab (Gravitation Group) Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Homi Bhabha Road, Mumbai-400 005, India
Accepted: 24 January 2006
We report on a measurement of the van der Waals interaction between rubidium atoms in the ground state and a metallic surface, employing a new method involving reflection of laser-cooled atoms from magnetic thin-film atom mirrors. We made use of the fact that the typical distance from which atoms reflect from thin-film magnetic mirrors is of the order of the magnetic domain size and the thickness of the thin film. The modification of the reflectivity of cold atoms from cobalt thin-film magnetic mirrors, with thickness in the range of , due to the competition between the attractive atom-surface interaction and the repulsive magnetic interaction enabled the measurement of the van der Waals force in the range 20– with an uncertainty of 15%. The measured value agrees well with recent theoretical estimates.
PACS: 34.50.Dy – Interaction of atoms and molecules with surfaces; photon and electron emission; neutralization of ions / 03.75.Be – Atom and neutron optics / 32.80.Pj – Optical cooling of atoms; trapping
© EDP Sciences, 2006
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