Levitated Quantum Nanophotonics

On Wednesday 1st November we had Professor Lukas Novotny from the Photonics Laboratory in ETH, Zürich give an insightful AMOPP seminar. His expertise spans many  areas, from optical antennas, near-field optics, nonlinear plasmonics and more. However, during his talk he focused on nanoparticle trapping and cooilng. The abstract for his talk can be found below, and he agreed to provide a copy of his slides which you can download here.


Levitated Quantum Nanophotonics
Vijay Jain [a], Martin Frimmer [a], Erik Hebestreit [a], Jan Gieseler[a], Romain Quidant [b], Christoph Dellago [c], and Lukas Novotny [a]
a) ETH Zurich, Photonics Laboratory, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.
b) ICFO, Mediterranean Technology Park, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain.
c) University of Vienna, Faculty of Physics, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

I discuss our experiments with optically levitated nanoparticles in ultrahigh vacuum. Using active parametric feedback we cool the particle’s center-of-mass temperature to T = 100μK and reach mean quantum occupation numbers of n = 15. I show that mechanical quality factors of Q = 109 can be reached and that damping is dominated by photon recoil heating. The vacuum-trapped nanoparticle forms an ideal model system for studying non-equilibrium processes, nonlinear interactions, and ultrasmall forces.

Towards endoscopic magnetic field sensors for biomedical applications

On Wednesday 25th of October, we had our weekly AMOPP seminar by Dr. Arne Wickenbrock from the Budker Group at the Helmholtz Institute of Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany. His research spans a wide range of fields including dark matter and dark energy constituents (GNOMECASPEr), zero- and ultralow-field nuclear magnetic resonance (ZULF-NMR) and many more. But this time his talk was actually focused on using Nitrogen-Vacancy centers in diamond as a means of detection for small magnetic fields, in the hopes of being able to use this as a medical diagnosis technique in the near future. The abstract for his talk can be found below.


Towards endoscopic magnetic field sensors for
biomedical applications
Arne Wickenbrock1,2, Georgios Chatzidrosos1, Huijie Zheng1, Lykourgos Bougas1, Dmitry
1Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany,
2Helmholtz Institut Mainz, Mainz, Germany,
3Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7300, USA
We propose and report on the progress towards a miniaturized endoscopic magnetic field sensor based on color center ensembles in diamond. The unique design of the sensor enables spatially resolved in-vivo measurements of static and oscillating magnetic fields with a broad bandwidth and high sensitivity. An endoscopic magnetometer could boost the size of magnetic signals of the heart, the brain or other organs due to the reduced distance to the underlying current densities. The high-bandwidth of the device enables spatially resolved methods for tissue discrimination such as nuclear magnetic resonance or eddy-current detection in vivo.  
An endoscopic sensor motivates two simultaneous approaches, firstly, we present a highly sensitive magnetometer that measures magnetic fields by monitoring cavity-enhanced absorption on the singlet transition of the negatively charged nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond under radio-frequency irradiation and optical pumping with a green laser. We achieve shot-noise limited performance with sensitivities better than 30 pT/Hz1/2 [1].
Secondly, the rapidly changing environment in the human body as well as exposure limits for electromagnetic radiation motivate the use of a microwave-free magnetometer. We demonstrated such a device based on a narrow magnetic feature due to the ground-state level anticrossing (GSLAC) of the NV center at a background field of 102 mT to measure magnetic fields without microwaves [2]. Additionally, we plan to combine the NV center magnetometer with a much more sensitive alkali vapor cell magnetometer to build a novel brain-machine interface at room temperature and in an unshielded environment. 
[1] G. Chatzidrosos, A. Wickenbrock, L. Bougas, N. Leefer, T. Wu, K. Jensen, Y. Dumeige, and D. Budker, Miniature cavity-enhanced diamond magnetometer, in preparation, 2017.
[2] A. Wickenbrock, H. Zheng, L. Bougas, N. Leefer, S. Afach, A. Jarmola, V. M. Acosta, and D. Budker, Microwave-free magnetometry with nitrogenvacancy centers in diamond, Applied Physics Letters 109, 053505 (2016)
[3] H. Zheng, G. Chatzidrosos, A. Wickenbrock, L. Bougas, R. Lazda, A. Berzins, F. H.Gahbauer, M. Auzinsh, R. Ferber, and D. Budker, Level anticrossing magnetometry with color centers in diamond, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 10119 101190X-1, 2017.

Taming polar molecules for quantum experiments

On Wednesday 11th of October our weekly AMOPP seminar was given by Dr. Martin Zeppenfeld from the Rempe Group at the Max Planck institute for quantum optics in Garching, Germany. His talk focused on their experiments involving the manipulation of cold polar molecules which Dr. Zeppenfeld leads. You can visit their website to find out more about their research, and the abstract for his talk is given below.


Polar molecules offer fascinating opportunities for quantum experiments at cold and ultracold temperatures. For example, chemistry at low temperatures features new possibilities such as controlling chemical reactions via electric and magnetic fields or observing reactions based on tunneling through a reaction barrier. Precision measurements on molecules provide insight into fundamental physics, allowing investigation of physics beyond the standard model. Attaining sufficient control over molecules provides opportunities for quantum simulations and quantum information processing.

In my talk I will present two aspects of our work on polar molecules. First, I will present our toolbox of techniques to produce molecule ensembles at very low temperatures. This includes centrifuge deceleration of cryogenic-buffer-gas cooled molecular beams as well as optoelectrical Sisyphus cooling of formaldehyde to sub-millikelvin temperatures. Second, I will present our progress towards quantum experiments coupling polar molecules to Rydberg atoms. As a first step, we have investigated electric field controlled collisions between polar molecules.

Optical spectroscopy for nuclear and atomic science at JYFL, Finland

On Wednesday 4th of October, we had the privilege of having Professor Iain D. Moore from the University of Jyväskylä as an invited speaker for one of our AMOPP seminars. The seminar focused mainly on the work they have been doing at the various accelerator facilities at JYFL and had a good mix of nuclear and atomic physics content.

Professor Iain D. Moore kindly agreed to provide a copy of his presentation slides which you can download here.


Optical spectroscopy for nuclear and atomic science at JYFL, Finland

Iain D. Moore, University of Jyväskylä


High-resolution optical measurements of the atomic level structure readily yield fundamental and model-independent data on nuclear ground and isomeric states, namely changes in the size and shape of the nucleus, as well as the nuclear spin and electromagnetic moments [1]. Laser spectroscopy combined with on-line isotope separators and novel ion manipulation techniques provides the only mechanism for such studies in exotic nuclear systems.

Internationally, there are a myriad of tools in use however these are traditionally variants of two main workhorses in the field – collinear laser spectroscopy and resonance ionization spectroscopy. Following a short overview of the Accelerator Laboratory at the University of Jyväskylä, I will briefly present both techniques and their use in accessing the heavy element region of the nuclear landscape which exhibits rather scarce information from optical studies. This reflects a combination of the difficulty in producing such elements (low production cross sections) and a lack of stable isotopes (thus few optical transitions available in literature). Indeed, this past year has seen a number of exciting developments including optical studies of exotic atoms produced at the level of one atom-at-a-time [2], and high-resolution spectroscopy in supersonic gas expansions [3].

Recently, we have initiated a new program on the actinide elements in collaboration with the University of Mainz. I will summarize the current status of the work which includes collinear laser spectroscopy on Pu, the heaviest element attempted with this particular technique [4]. Our focus has recently turned to the study of the lowest-lying isomeric state in the nuclear chart, 229Th.  Almost 40 years of research has been invested into efforts to observe the isomeric transition which, if found, may be directly accessed by lasers. In 2016, the community was given a tremendous boost with the unambiguous identification of the state by a group in Munich, providing a stepping stone towards a future realization of a “nuclear clock” [5].

[1] P. Campbell, I.D. Moore and M.R. Pearson, Progress in Part. and Nucl. Phys. 86 (2016) 127.

[2] M. Laataioui et al., Nature 538 (2016) 495.

[3] R. Ferrer et al., Nature Communications 8 (2017) 14520.

[4] A. Voss et al., Phys. Rev. A 95 (2017) 032506.

[5] L. von der Wense et al., Nature 533 (2016) 47.

12th International Workshop on Positron and Positronium Chemistry

Our research group was recently represented by Dr David Cassidy at the 12th International Workshop on Positron and Positronium Chemistry (PPC12), which took place between the 28th of August and 1st of September in in Ludblin, Poland. The main focus of this meeting was the interaction of positrons and positronium with other materials and atoms, including polymers, soft matter, surface states and more.

David presented our recent advances in producing a beam of Rydberg positronium atoms (PRL 117, 073202 & PRA 95, 053409) and the prospects of using such techniques to form the yet-unobserved positron-atom bound states (PRA 93, 052712).

You can have a look at the abstracts in the conference website. We are grateful to the organizers for this opportunity and their hard work.

Rydberg Positronium-electron scattering

In our last experiment, we showed how a curved quadrupole guide can be used to transport Rydberg Positronium (Ps*) around a 45 degree bend (blue path in picture below) into a region away from the positron beam line (yellow path below), which can then be implemented into a scattering region (PRA 95 053409). In addition, this new off-axis setup eliminated detection difficulties that were encountered in our previous straight guide experiments.

The scattering chamber setup is shown in the right hand side picture below. Guided Ps* atoms emerging from the end of the quadrupole are introduced into a scattering region where they collide with electrons that are thermoinically ejected (orange path) from a Molybdenum filament . This region is surrounded by gamma-ray detectors coupled to photomultiplier tubes (PMT) which record annihilation events inside the chamber. However, these PMTs in themselves are not sufficient to conclude what kind of interaction has taken place, we can only conclude that a Ps atom annihilated if an event is detected, but not if there were intermediate steps (such as charge exchange between the free electrons and the valence electron) before annihilation. To overcome this, we used a micro-channel plate (MCP) which has the benefit of being able to detect only certain charged particles (i.e. differentiating between electrons and positrons) depending on the electric fields applied in the detection region.

When the Ps*collides with free electrons a few different things can happen; the electron could break up the Ps* into electron and positron (ionisation: e^{-} + Ps^{*} \rightarrow e^{-} + e^{+} + e^{-} ) or, the positron from the Ps* will be stolen away by the incoming free electron, resulting in a new short lived Ps which annihilates before hitting the MCP, thus giving a diminished signal (charge exchange: e^{-} + Ps^{*} \rightarrow Ps + e^{-}). Additionally, Positronium and an electron can form a negative Ps ion (Ps¯ ), which is the bound state of a Ps atom and an orbiting electron, this ions have been shown to be quite unstable, having a lifetime of <1ns.

Above you can see some experimental Time of Flight (TOF) data showing the possibility of having detected a charge exchange process. The blue curve on the left panel is a TOF signal of guided Positronium atoms after hitting the MCP detector. The Ps* atoms have a mean flight time of around 10\mus. When we let the electron beam into the scattering region  we observe a suppression of the TOF spectra (green curve), this is due to the electric fields in front of the MCP detector, which should only allow positrons to be detected. The PMT signal for both cases (shown in the right panel) are the same indicating that this drop in MCP signal is in fact electron related, not as a result of less Positronium being guided. All that remains to do now is to determine the nature of this signal but nonetheless, it’s intriguing how readily Ps* interacts with electrons (maybe other particles too), especially when considering that a direct method of producing anti-Hydrogen is via charge exchange collisions between Ps* and antiproton ( Ps^{*} + \overline{p} \rightarrow \overline{H}+ e^{-} ).

Optimizing Positronium Rydberg manipulation

In recent experiments we showed how we successfully manipulated the trajectories of Rydberg Positronium atoms using electric field inside a curved quadrupole guide, which allows us to perform velocity selection on the Positronium atoms that enter the quadrupole field.

These curved guide experiments were performed by exciting Positronium to n = 14, which is a state that has a relatively low mean lifetime of ~8 \mus, which is comparable to the flight time of our experiment, meaning that many of the n = 14 atoms undergo radiative decay before they can be detected. However, when judging what the most efficient n for guiding is, we need to have into consideration a few other factors. The lifetime of different n states goes up as n^3, but the field-ionisation rate goes up as ~n^{-4}, and the dipole moment as n^2. Combining all of these factors and implementing them into trajectory-simulations based on the electric fields generated by the curved guide, we were able to determine that the most efficient n for curved guiding is n = 14, as it can be seen from the graph below.

These simulations agree with our data and were instrumental in determining the optimum parameters of the experiment.

We are currently working on implementing this off-axis curved guide into a scattering experiment using helium ions, below you can see at the bottom of the image the new scattering chamber that has been coupled to the Positronium Rydberg beam.