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Laser-Cooled Atoms Group

Creighton UniversityDepartment of Physics

Jonathan P. Wrubel, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator)

This is the research group page of the Laser-Cooled Atoms Group at Creighton University led by Dr. Jonathan Wrubel. Our group is building an experiment to probe quantum physics in a Bose-Einstein condensate of 41K (potassium-41).  This facinating state of matter is made by using lasers to cool gas atoms down to temperature below a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.  This novel state allows us to study quantum magnetism.

2017 Laser-Cooling Lab


  • February 2018: Science chamber has been baked for 1.5 weeks at ~175˚C, and pumped down to 7.6x10-11 Torr. This is 1 part in 10 trillion of atmospheric pressure! Imagine if every atom were the size of a ping-pong ball, then this is like filling Memorial Stadium in Lincoln to the top of the stadium with ping-pong balls 270 times over, and removing all but 1! (approximating the stadium as 180 m long x 130 m wide x 53 m deep)
    2018 Science chamber ion gauge pressure
  • October 2017: Improved 2D MOT of potassium-39!
  • July 2017: First 2D MOT of potassium-39! It needs to be optimized but it's great to have laser-cooled atoms! Next: a 2D MOT of potassium-41.
      2D MOT Fluorescence
  • July 2017: The glass octagonal science cell is installed and baking.
  • April 2017: Catie's large square Helmholtz coils for controlling the experiment magnetic field are tested and working as predicted!
    Helmholtz coils and 1064 nm dipole laser
  • March 2017: Research student Caitlyn Ward receives '17-'18 Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship! Congratulations Catie!
  • August 2016: Rebuilt vacuum system achieved ultra-high vacuum.
  • June 2016: Achieved 2G magnetic field in a resonant coil at 120 MHz!120 MHz RF resonant Helmholtz coil
  • April 2016: Research student Alex Tarter receive a Barry Goldwater Scholarship! Congratulations Alex!
  • March 2016: Research student Caitlyn Ward receives '16-'17 Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship! Congratulations Catie!
  • August 2015: Alex finishes his improved and redisgned potassium oven.Potassium source (open)Potassium source (finished)
  • June 2015: Improved doppler-free absorption spectrum.Potassium Doppler-Free Absorption Spectrum
  • May 2015: M.S. student Nathan Holman successfully defends his thesis: "Progress Towards A Spinor Bose-Einstein Condensate Machine". Nathan is going on to the Ph.D. program at UW Madison to study solid state quantum computing.
  • March 2015: The tapered-amplifier is operational - achieving 1.6 W of light at 767 nm!Tapered Amplifier
  • February 2015: Dr. Wrubel receives a Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement! The title of the grant is: "Precision Measurement of a Microwave Fano-Feshbach Resonance in Ultracold 41K Atoms"
  • January 2015: The ECDL is locked to the 39K cross-over transition using a Doppler-free saturated absortpion technique.
    Doppler-Free Saturated Absorption Lock
  • January 2014: The external cavity diode laser has its first light!  Nathan Holman (M.S. candidate) is getting it tuned to the correct wavelength.

External-Cavity Diode Laser

Current group members

  • Gustavo Hernandez (class of 2020) - 3D MOT coils
  • W. Andy Peterson (M.S. candidate - 2017) - MOT/optical molasses hybrid simulations
  • Joseph Preimesberger (class of 2018) - resonant RF field
  • Caitlyn Ward (class of 2018) - active magnetic field stabilization

Past group members

  • Alex Tarter (class of 2017) - K41 source, resonant RF field
  • Sruti Prathivadhi-Bhayankaram (class of 2017) - michelson interferometer
  • Shouvik Bhattacharya (M.S. candidate - 2016) - external field cancellation system
  • Nathan Holman (M.S. candidate - 2015) - saturated absorption locking system
  • Lucas Slattery (class of 2015) - source module
  • Ben Schmachtenberger (class of 2015) - laser cavity construction
  • Colin Bertsch (class of 2016) - vacuum equipment testing
  • Steffen Lake (class of 2016) - laser cavity construction
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