Whitlock, Shannon M.
Atom chips are devices used to magnetically trap and manipulate ultracold atoms and Bose-Einstein condensates near a surface. In particular, permanent magnetic film atom chips can allow very tight confinement and intricate magnetic field designs while circumventing technical current noise. Research described in this thesis is focused on the development of a magnetic film atom chip, the production of Bose-Einstein condensates near the film surface, the characterisation of the associated magnetic potentials using rf spectroscopy of ultracold atoms and the realisation of a precision sensor based on splitting Bose-Einstein condensates in a double-well potential. The atom chip itself combines the edge of a perpendicularly magnetised GdTbFeCo film with a machined silver wire structure. A mirror magneto-optical trap collects up to 5 x 108 87Rb atoms beneath the chip surface. The current-carrying wires are then used to transfer the cloud of atoms to the magnetic film microtrap and radio frequency evaporative cooling is applied to produce Bose-Einstein condensates consisting of 1 x 105 atoms. We have identified small spatial magnetic field variations near the film surface that fragment the ultracold atom cloud. These variations originate from inhomogeneity in the film magnetisation and are characterised using a novel technique based on spatially resolved radio frequency spectroscopy of the atoms to map the magnetic field landscape over a large area. The observations agree with an analytic model for the spatial decay of random magnetic fields from the film surface. Bose-Einstein condensates in our unique potential landscape have been used as a precision sensor for potential gradients. We transfer the atoms to the central region of the chip which produces a double-well potential. A single BEC is formed far from the surface and is then dynamically split in two by moving the trap closer to the surface. After splitting, the population of atoms in each well is extremely sensitive to the asymmetry of the potential and can be used to sense tiny magnetic field gradients or changes in gravity on a small spatial scale.
Andrei I. Sidorov
Copyright © 2007 Shannon M. Whitlock.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2007.