Development and Characterization of a Magneto-Optical Trap for Rubidium
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We developed a magneto-optical trap for laser cooling and trapping of rubidium atoms. The trapped atom cloud is characterized in terms of the population, volume and temperature. At a laser detuning of 24 MHz we achieve a temperature of 250 ± 20, which is approaching the Doppler cooling limit of ~150. The population is determined by collecting fluorescent light emitted by the trapped atoms over a small solid angle and then inferring the total fluorescence power. The volume of the atom cloud is measured by spatially resolved absorption imaging. By optimizing the laser detuning we can trap as many as 108 atoms at a number density of 1011 cm-3. At our largest trap population the trap temperature is 670 ± 60, which is measured using the time-of-flight technique. The characterization of our magneto-optical trap agrees well with typical values obtained. The optimization of the magneto-optical trap will allow us to work toward storing light in the cold atoms where a high density is required. We present simple and robust methods for characterization using off-the-shelf components, making it attractive as a first step in a more developed experiment.