Optical Lattice

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© NIST.

The egg-carton-like structure shown here represents the energy landscape an atom experiences in an optical lattice. Atoms are attracted to the low-energy regions, which correspond to regions where the optical field is strong. An optical lattice similar to this was used to hold the atoms in the rectangular array in Figure 2. Lattices can be designed to confine atoms in one, two or three dimensions, making it possible to study different types of many-body structures. Furthermore, the beams can be controlled to provide geometries not normally found in nature, for instance a triangular lattice. (Unit: 5)