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JILA physicists have demonstrated a new atomic clock design that uses laser tweezers to trap, control, and isolate atoms. The tweezers are created by an IR laser beam aimed through a microscope. The beam is deflected to create 10 spots of light for trapping individual strontium atoms. The traps are refilled every few seconds from a prechilled cloud of atoms overlapped with the tweezer light.
The atoms held by the tweezers are excited by a laser that is stabilized by a silicon crystal cavity, creating a “clock laser” light. This light is applied perpendicular to the tweezer light along with an applied magnetic field. Nondestructive imaging reveals whether the atoms are ticking properly; the atoms will emit light only when in the…READ MORE