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A new beam splitter for matter waves

par Bertrand Georgeot - 23 juillet 2012

Toutes les versions de cet article : English , français

Beam splitters are fundamental tools in optics, and enable the construction of many interferometric devices. In order to control matter waves as well as light waves, it is therefore important to be able to construct matter wave beam splitters. A novel possibility for such a device has been proposed and demonstrated by a collaboration between Bertrand Georgeot of LPT and the experimental cold atoms group of LCAR (group of David Guery-Odelin). In the proposed setup, the matter wave is a guided atom laser that can be tuned from quasi-monomode to a regime where many transverse modes are populated, and propagates in a horizontal dipole beam until it crosses another horizontal beam at 45 degrees. Depending on the parameters, the system can act as a perfect switch, or as a beam splitter in which several exit channels are populated. The splitting regime results from a chaotic scattering dynamics. The results have been published recently in Physical Review Letters , where the paper was selected as an Editor’s suggestion and gave rise to a synopsis in the APS highlight journal ``Physics’’.