Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall 2008/Spring 2009

The first optical elements are being assembled.
The lab, still pretty empty.

My first year here at Willamette. We used the Fall 2008/Spring 2009 year to prepare the lab for work on ultracold atoms, purchased the necessary equipment to get us started and began initial assembly of the apparatus. I am very happy that several students were interested in helping me with this task. They assembled a laser diode from scratch and worked on finding the right wavelength by sending the laser beam through a glass cell containing room temperature rubidium atoms and looking for an absorption signal.
Garrett Potter
Matt Titus
Garrett Potter and Matt Titus began work on PID controllers, electronic devices which allow us to “lock” the laser frequency. Their initial work was continued during the Spring 2009 semester when students mass-produced photodiodes and differential amplifiers - two components that are part of the complete controller circuit - as part of the ATEP class. Garrett and Matt were joined by Kyle Kotaich, Marc Whitehead and Thomas Eliot for part of the semester, who adjusted the laser frequency and took first absorption spectroscopy measurements. 

Marc Whitehead
Thomas Eliott

Kyle Kotaich
More baking.
Baking the vacuum chamber.
We also assembled and baked the vacuum chamber. This was probably the most nerve-wracking part as I was not sure that the chamber had survived the transport from Rochester without any damage. Turns out, it has. After a week of baking we were in the low 10-9 Torr range already, and the pressure has dropped to the middle 10-10 Torr since.
The clean chamber.

The clean chamber.