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Title: Atomic physics with vapor-cell clocks
Authors: McGuyer, Bart
Advisors: Happer, William
Contributors: Physics Department
Subjects: Physics
Atomic physics
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The most widely used atomic frequency standards (or clocks) are based on the microwave resonant frequencies of optically pumped vapors of alkali-metal atoms in glass cells filled with buffer gas. These vapor-cell clocks are secondary, not primary frequency standards mainly because of the light and pressure shifts, which alter the resonant frequencies of the alkali-metal atoms. This dissertation presents studies of atomic physics important to vapor-cell clocks and, in particular, their accuracy. First, we report a simple method to suppress the light shift in optical pumping systems. This method uses only frequency modulation of a radio frequency or microwave source, which excites an atomic resonance, to simultaneously lock the source frequency to the atomic resonance and lock the pumping light frequency to suppress the light shift. This technique can be applied to many optical pumping systems that experience light shifts. It is especially useful for atomic clocks because it improves the long-term performance, reduces the influence of a pumping laser, and requires less equipment than previous methods. Next, we present three studies of the pressure shift, starting with an estimation of the hyperfine-shift potential that is responsible for most of the pressure shift. We then show that the microwave resonant frequencies of ground-state Rb and Cs atoms in Xe buffer gas have a relatively large nonlinear dependence on the Xe pressure, presumably because of short-lived RbXe and CsXe van der Waals molecules. The Xe data show striking discrepancies with the previous theory for nonlinear shifts, most of which is eliminated by accounting for the spin-rotation interaction in addition to the hyperfine-shift interaction in the molecules. To the limit of our experimental accuracy, the shifts of Rb and Cs in He, Ne, and N2 were linear with pressure. We then consider the prospects for suppressing the pressure shift with buffer-gas mixtures and feedback. Finally, we report an investigation of the potential for integrating spheres to enhance absorption in optically thin alkali-metal vapor cells. We demonstrate a roughly ten-fold increase of the optical absorption that seems to be limited by the glass cell required to contain the alkali-metal vapor.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Physics

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