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Atomic Physics Seminars
Monday, March 19, 2007
Physics Building, Room 204
[Host: Cass Sackett]
Penn State University
"Physics with Atomic Clocks: Beyond What time is it?"
Atomic clocks realize the most accurate measurements of any kind and are
extremely sensitive to incredibly small perturbations. The current
generation of atomic clocks uses laser-cooling and, after circumventing
some new problems, these will realize 100 fold improvements in clock
accuracies. I will describe the basic physics of clocks, the motivations
for building better clocks, and several of the new problems. The new
problems include frequency shifts due to collisions of the cold atoms,
the size of the recoil of an atom when it absorbs a photon, and juggling
many atoms in fountains. Looking forward, the next generation of atomic
clocks will utilize optical frequency transitions. I will describe this
elegant technology that allows us to count at optical frequencies (1015
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