Pritchard, David E. Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Diffraction gratings
- Atom interferometers
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The use of laser light and nanofabricated structures to manipulate the motion of atoms in the same manner that rudimentary optical elements control light. The term refers to both an outlook in which atoms in atomic beams are thought of and manipulated like photons in light beams, and a collection of demonstrated techniques for doing such manipulation (see table). Two types of atom optics elements have existed for some time: slits and holes used to collimate molecular beams (the analog of the pinhole camera), and focusing lenses for atoms and molecules (for example, hexapole magnets and quadrupole electrostatic lenses). However, in the 1980s the collection of optical elements for atoms expanded dramatically because of the use of near-resonant laser light and fabricated structures to make several types of mirrors as well as diffraction gratings. The diffraction gratings are particularly interesting because they exploit and demonstrate the (de Broglie) wave nature of atoms in a clear fashion. See also: Laser
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