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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E043631/1
Title: Atom Chips - Integrated Circuits for Nanoscale Manipulation of Cold Atoms
Principal Investigator: Hinds, Professor EA
Other Investigators:
Kraft, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 04 October 2007 Ends: 30 April 2012 Value (£): 1,070,040
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Cold Atomic Species Quantum Optics & Information
System on Chip
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Atom chips consist of small electric, magnetic and optical structures microfabricated on silicon or silica substrates. Magnetic electric or optical forces produced by the chip are used to manipulate low temperature atom clouds, typically at one microKelvin or below. The number of atoms in the cloud can be adjusted, ranging typically from ten thousand all the way down to just one atom. The clouds can be moved in a controlled way from one part of the chip to another and the distance from the surface can be adjusted as needed to any desired value in the range 1-100 microns. The atoms can be split and recombined by manipulating the shape of the confining potentials in order to perform interferometry. They can also be moved in and out of high-finesse optical cavities, allowing the coupling of atoms to photons, or indeed the coupling of a single atom to a single photon. All this has been developed over the last few years by a few groups throughout the world, with particular strength being in Europe as a result of European Networks and strong national funding. The UK has been among the leaders in this field, supported over the last four years by the Basic Technology project Atom Chips: integrated circuits for nanoscale manipulation of cold atoms . Taken all together, this toolbox of elementary operations amounts to the embryo of a new technology in which the microscopic control of atoms and their interactions with each other and with photons can perform useful functions. Quantum mechanics is at the heart of this technology because the atomic de Broglie wavelength is comparable with the trap sizes used and often the atoms are in the quantum ground state of their motion. Sometimes the whole ensemble of atoms is in its many-body quantum ground state (BEC) and sometimes we are using single atoms or single photons. So far, this new capability to harness quantum mechanics has been confined to demonstration experiments in highly specialised laser laboratories such as the Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College. Now we propose to move to a new phase of development. We will explore how combinations of these basic operations can be integrated on a single chip into systems robust enough to perform useful functions. This phase of the research is a natural sequel to the Basic Technology Atom Chips project because it is the necessary step that can allow the new basic technology to make contact with the commercial world. This is also a high-risk phase, which can only proceed if our technical capability is safely underpinned by a grant such as this Translation Grant. Specific atom chip devices that we will explore include clocks, accelerometers, interferometers, magnetometers, single photon sources, quantum information processors and molecule traps. When particularly promising designs emerge from this exploration, we will seek more specific support to commercialise them.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk