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Twisting Light to Trap Atoms

Photons carry a type of angular momentum that can guide, trap and rotate ultracold atoms and particles

Sonja Franke-Arnold, Aidan S. Arnold

Figure 1. Bose-Einstein condensateClick to Enlarge ImageTo study atoms, you have to be able to get ahold of them. Not only are atoms extremely small, but they're also very quick. For several decades physicists have worked out ways to slow atoms down by cooling them. Sonja Franke-Arnold and Aidan Arnold review some of the work that has been done using lasers to cool and trap atoms. They also discuss their own efforts using "twisted" light, which has several kinds of angular momentum, to create an "optical Ferris wheel" that improves on these processes.


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