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Laser Physics, Quantum Optics & Ultracold Atoms

Meet Our Faculty

The fields of Laser Physics, Quantum Optics and Ultracold Atoms cover distinct areas of physics which study the behaviour of matter or the interaction of light with matter under extreme conditions which are far removed from those experienced under everyday circumstances.

Researching the behaviours of ultracold atoms requires the use of laser cooling to remove energy and slow down individual atoms or small groups of atoms to mere millionths of degrees above the absolute temperature limit of absolute zero. At such extremely low temperatures, the atoms can be held in electromagnetic traps or optical lattices created using the interference of two or more laser beams. By observing the atoms under such individual and idealized conditions we can remove many of the imperfections present in most real systems since the atoms have almost no interaction with their environment. The conditions themselves are under our direct control and not limited by limited material or environmental choices and it is possible to track the behavior of individual atoms in real time rather than looking at a changes in a group to infer individual behaviour.

By looking at single and many-particle systems in such isolated conditions quantum phase transitions can be studied and new states of matter such as Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) in which every atom occupies the same quantum state, bringing quantum mechanical behavior to macroscopic scales can be directly investigated. Using the BEC the study of coherent matter-wave optics (in which the de Broglie waves of atoms are in phase) make possible the measurement of phenomena orders of magnitude smaller than are possible with optical techniques and offer the possibility of direct measurement of gravitational interactions at small length-scales previously completely inaccessible.

Quantum optics is the study of the interaction of light and matter at the quantum level is a critical link to many areas of physics and experimental techniques.

Laser physics deals with the interdisciplinary realm of optics, atomic and molecular physics, quantum mechanics, and materials science. Our goals are to understand the operation of lasers, amplifiers and related optical and electro-optical systems to control and produce light beams or pulses with well-defined parameters, and exploring the dynamics of the interaction of intense, coherent light with matter. In particular, our research in the area has focused on femtosecond pulsed laser systems for laser ablation and micromachining, generation of THz domain radiation and THz spectroscopy, and electron microscopy of Yb-doped photo darkening optical fibres.