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Trapping, cooling and high-fidelity manipulation of cold atoms using laser pulses

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Conventional laser cooling and trapping techniques use stabilized c.w. laser beams to control vapour-phase atoms, but as a result work only with those species to which the laser is tuned. In contrast, pulsed techniques promise a degree of insensitivity to the atoms, or potentially molecules, that are trapped or cooled. The pulsed interactions at the heart of such methods resemble the interactions and gates of quantum computation, and the pulse sequences prove to be best designed by regarding the atomic system as a momentum-state quantum computer. Error correction methods, borrowed from both quantum computation and nuclear magnetic resonance, offer the necessary fidelity in the face of experimental variations. This talk will outline the theoretical principles of these techniques, and present some experimental studies of composite pulse error correction, which may be useful for a range of atom interferometry applications. Preliminary evidence for pulsed interferometric cooling of an atomic sample will also be presented.

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