Studies of Ultracold Strontium Gases
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We describe the operation and performance of an ultracold strontium apparatus that is capable of generating quantum degenerate gases. The experiment has produced Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) of 84Sr and 86Sr as well as degenerate Fermi gases (DFGs) of 87Sr with a reduced temperature of T/TF = 0.2 at a Fermi temperature of TF = 55 nK. Straightforward modifications could be made to allow for isotopic mixtures and BECs of the fourth stable isotope, 88Sr.
We also report on a technique to improve the continuous loading of a magnetic trap by adding a laser tuned to the 3P1 - 3S1 transition. The method increases atom number in the magnetic trap and subsequent cooling stages by up to 65% for the bosonic isotopes and up to 30% for the fermionic isotope of strontium. We optimize this trap loading strategy with respect to laser detuning, intensity, and beam size. To understand the results, we develop a one-dimensional rate equation model of the system, which is in good agreement with the data. We discuss the use of other transitions in strontium for accelerated trap loading and the application of the technique to other alkaline-earth-like atoms.
Finally, we also report on an updated investigation of photoassociation resonances relative to the 1S0 + 3P1 dissassociation limit in bosonic strontium. Multiple new resonances for 84Sr and 86Sr were measured out to binding energies of -5 GHz and several discrepancies in earlier measurements were resolved. These measurements will allow for the development of a more accurate mass-scaled model and a better theoretical understanding of the molecular potentials near the 3P1 state. We also measure the strength of the 84Sr 0u transitions in order to characterize their use as optical Feshbach resonances.