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  Cass Sackett   Cass Sackett
Associate Professor , Experimental Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Ph.D., 1998, Rice

cas8m@Virginia.EDU email   924-6795 tel 104 PLSB Office

Since its first observation in 1995, the process of Bose-Einstein condensation of atomic gases has captured the imagination of many physicists. In this phenomenon, a large number of atoms come to occupy the same quantum state, causing the normally ethereal wave function to act rather as a classical, observable wave. Our research is focused on developing practical applications for these condensates. In particular, we are developing condensate interferometry, in which the atom wave is coherently separated into pieces which are later recombined. The result of the recombination depends sensitively on the surrounding environment, meaning that it can be used as a sensor for measuring inertial effects like gravity or rotation, and electromagnetic effects like fields or atomic interactions.

Our interferometer uses atoms confined in a magnetic trap, which allows interaction times of up to one second and wave-packet separations of up to half a millimeter. These are very large scales for atomic phenomena, and they illustrate the unusual behavior of quantum system on a macroscopic scale. Current projects include high-precision measurements of gravity, rotation, and atomic polarizability. Longer term goals include studying atom-surface interactions and development of techniques to use entangled states to improve measurement precision.


Sackett Group


O. Garcia, B. Deissler, K.J. Hughes, J.M. Reeves and C.A. Sackett, “Bose-Einstein condensate interferometer with macroscopic arm separation”, Physical Review A 74, 031601(R) (2006).

K.J. Hughes, J.H.T. Burke, and C.A. Sackett, “Suspension of Atoms Using Optical Pulses, and Application to Gravimetry”, Physical Review Letters 102, 150403 (2009).

J.H.T. Burke and C.A. Sackett, “Scalable Bose-Einstein-condensate Sagnac interferometer in a linear trap”, Physical Review A 80, 061603(R) (2009).

UVa Physics professor Cass Sackett is testing gravity and quantum mechanics in space using the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), a device aboard the International Space Station.  His work is ......More >
From UVA Today: It is said that what goes up must come down. Thank gravity for that. But sometimes gravitational effects affect matter on Earth in ways that physicists ......More >
Cass Sackett wrote a Viewpoint, "Cool Physics with Warm Ions", for Physics, an American Physical Society site that provides daily on-line ......More >
  COURSES (Fall 2019)