Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Seminar Feb 5th “Of Course There are No Two-level Atoms and Sodium is Not One of Them!”

Feb. 5, 2019  2:00 PM Buckman Theatre

Dr. Douglas Goodman Assistant Professor of Physics

Legend has it that Nobel Laureate William D. Phillips once said, "Of course there are no two-level atoms and sodium is not one of them!" It is a familiar joke within the Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics community. The saying serves as a warning not to apply the quantum mechanical two-level atom approximation to situations where it does not belong, including the description of atoms when they are trapped and cooled by lasers inside a magneto-optical trap (MOT) Since the 1980s, this two-level approximation has been used to describe the electronic-state distribution arising from the trapped atoms’ interaction with the laser light. However, by using a unique hybrid ion-neutral trap, we were able to directly measure the fractional excited-state population of sodium atoms held within a MOT. Doing so allowed us to compare the experimental results with the two-level model prediction, revealing the conditions under which the two-level model succeeds and when it fails. It is true, there are no two-level atoms, but sodium sometimes acts like one of them

Dr.  Goodman is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Quinnipiac University. He earned his B.S. (Trinity, 2006) and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics (UConn, 2015). Prof. Goodman's research interests are in the field of experimental ultracold atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics, which includes the study of laser cooling and trapping of atoms/ions, electrodynamic ion traps, and cold ion-neutral.

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