Doppler cooling

Doppler cooling is a technique that uses laser light to slow, and thus cool, moving atoms. An atom will absorb a photon that has an energy equal to the difference between two energy levels in the atom. When the atom absorbs a photon, it also absorbs the photon's momentum and gets a push in the direction that the photon was traveling. If the photon and atoms were traveling in opposite directions, the atom slows down. However, when the atom is moving relative to the laser, the laser light is Doppler shifted in the atom's reference frame. To cool moving atoms, the laser must be tuned slightly to the red to account for the Doppler shift of atoms moving toward the light source.