Laser-free slow atom source
A slow atom source, which does not rely on lasers, has been developed and characterized. The device, acting as an atomic low-pass velocity filter, utilizes permanent magnets to passively select the slow atoms present in a thermal atomic beam. Slow atoms are guided along a curved, conduction-limited tube by an octupole magnetic field, while fast atoms, unable to follow the curved trajectory, strike the tube wall and are removed from the beam. The performance of the device is demonstrated by loading a magneto-optical trap. Approximately 2×108 lithium atoms are loaded with a rate of ∼6×106 atoms/s, while maintaining a background gas pressure of ∼10−11 torr. This loading technique provides an exceptionally simple, economical, and robust alternative to laser cooling methods.