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Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that atoms can be guided in a laser beam and possess the same properties as light guided in an optical communications fiber.

The researchers’ work has implications for future quantum devices that require smoothly-guided matter waves, such as atom interferometers which need to sensitively measure the earth’s gravitational field for geo-exploration. Their paper is published today in Nature Communications.

“In an optical fibre, many modes of light can be conducted simultaneously, and they can interfere to produce a speckled pattern of light,” said team member Professor Ken Baldwin from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum-Atom Optics at ANU.

“We have shown that when in a vacuum chamber are guided inside a laser light beam, they too can create a speckle pattern - an image of which we have captured for the first time”.

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Category: Science