Australian Journal of Physics Australian Journal of Physics Society
A journal for the publication of original research in all branches of physics

Calculating Trajectories for Atoms in Near-resonant Lightfields

R. E. Scholten, T. J. O'Kane, T. R. Mackin, T. A. Hunt and P. M. Farrell

Australian Journal of Physics 52(3) 493 - 514
Published: 1999


We review several methods for calculating the time development of the internal state and the external motion of atoms in near-resonant light fields, with emphasis on studying the focussing of atomic beams into microscopic and potentially nanoscopic patterns. Three different approaches are considered: two-level semiclassical, multi-level semiclassical, and the Monte Carlo wavefunction method. The two-level semiclassical technique of McClelland and Scheinfein (1991) and McClelland (1995) is extended to three dimensions, and used to calculate the trajectories of atoms and the imaging properties of a simple lens formed from a near-resonant travelling TEM01 mode laser. The model is then extended to multi-level atoms, where we calculate the density matrix for the internal state of a sample of thermal atoms in a standing wave, and show how cooling processes can be simulated. Finally, we use the Monte Carlo wavefunction method to calculate the internal state of the atom, and compare the results and required computation time to those of the multi-level semiclassical technique.

© CSIRO 1999

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