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Friday, April 12 2013: Spring is here, which means it's crawfish season (somewhere).  This weekend the Campbell and Hudson groups joined together for a crawfish boil as a joint spring picnic, generously hosted by Eric at his house right on the beach.  After some initial speculation about a potential Hitchcockesque bird attack on the mudbugs, the seagulls turned out to be uninterested.  This was good news for Clawdius the crawfish, who did manage to escape, and is probably living it up in Cabo by now...     + continue reading
Friday, March 29 2013: The molecule experiment group has trapped extremely cold atoms in the center of their apparatus. The white blob shown on the screen in the picture is a cloud of glowing rubidium atoms, levitated in the middle of a vacuum chamber.  The atoms are cooled to less than 1 degree above absolute zero and can be confined in space using atom traps.  The trap employed here is a hybrid magnetic and optical trap called a MOT, and is a standard tool in atomic physics.  To get the atoms that cold, we actually shoot lasers at them, which are capable not only of heating things up, but also (if done correctly) of cooling them down dramatically. + continue reading
Friday, January 18 2013: The voltage breakdown test of the gold-patterned fused silica test chip revealed that the gold patterning performed well overall.  In this image, a series of electrodes can be seen on the right.  Each pair has a small gap between them, and we applied up to 500 V RF across these gaps without any failures.  In the future, we hope to use this architecture to make advanced ion traps for quantum simulations. + continue reading
Thursday, December 20 2012: We have begun testing some microfabricated ion traps for their tolerance to high voltage.  Our ion traps use a combination of static and radiofrequency (RF) electric fields to confine single, charged atoms in the trap.  The image shows an RF discharge we intentionally ignited in a vacuum chamber.  The visible glow is caused by gas-phase atoms and molecules that are excited through collisions due to the electrical current flowing through the gas, and the spectrum of the emitted light would contain lots of information about the composition of the gas in the chamber.  For our purposes, we simply hope that the ion traps can withstand high voltage without igniting a discharge at all. + continue reading
Tsunami Ti:Sapph
Wednesday, December 12 2012: The Tsunami laser is now mode-locked, which means it emits a pulse of light every 12 nanoseconds.  Each pulse is extremely brief--so brief, in fact, that they last about one millionth of one millionth of 1 second!  Many researchers routinely push this to even shorter pulse durations, but for our molecule experiment, we want pules that are in this "picosecond" regime.  In the image, you can see the green (532 nm) pump laser scatter on the right, with the Ti:Sapph crystal fluorsecence in the center of the image.  + continue reading
Sunday, November 11 2012: The 2012 Exploring Your Universe science and technology expo at UCLA was once again a rousing success.  The weather cooperated to give us a gorgeous fall day, and Wes gave a talk on The Physics of Baseball.  All of the volunteers who gave their time to help bring science to the community in this free, public event were appreciated by the crowd, and we're already looking forward to next year. + continue reading
Tuesday, October 9 2012: The Royal Swedish Academy announced this morning that Dave Wineland and Serge Haroche have been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."  In particular, Dave Wineland pioneered many of the tools we use in our research, including laser cooling, sideband cooling, and quantum gates.  Wineland and Haroche's contributions extend beyond the physics we use everyday in our lab as well, and the theme of using atoms as pristine, controllable quantum systems continues across the globe.  The full scientific background for the award can be found here.  Congratulations Dave and Serge! + continue reading
Tuesday, October 2 2012: This Fall, we are pleased to be getting two new group members.  Undergraduate student Sam Freitas will be joining us from right here at UCLA (always perfect weather--that picture might as well be a webcam).  We will also soon be joined by Postdoctoral Researcher Sylvi Haendel, who is coming all the way from Australia and will be bringing a lot of expertise with her.  We're going to need more hard hats!  Posted by: WCC 10/2/2012 + continue reading
Monday, September 10 2012: The website for our group has now been launched.  (After all, you're looking at it right now.)  Thanks in no small part to the efforts of our stalwarts Patrice Tonnis and Ian Ulery, this will be our new home on the web.  The image you see here is a calculation of transition probability for a 2-level system driven by hyperbolic secant pulse with a linear frequency chirp, something that we hope will be useful for our cold molecule experiment. Posted by: WCC  9/2012 + continue reading
Monday, September 10 2012: Construction of the "clouds" that will go over the optics tables has begun in earnest. An optics table cloud is a large platform suspended above the optical table to prevent dust accumulation and regulate the temperature on the table, as well as providing a handy shelf for equipment. In the image, Andrew Jayich (Postdoctoral Researcher) and Danilo Dadic (Undergraduate Student) use a hammer drill to install anchors into the ceiling. As always, some (rather fun) fraction of experimental physics is spent doing things that can reasonably be categorized as "construction work." Every experimental quantum physicist is a classical mechanic from time to time. Posted by: WCC 9/1/2012 + continue reading

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