How to catch an atom with single photons

P. W.H. Pinkse, T. Fischer, P. Maunz, T. Puppe, G. Rempe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


We report on trapping a single neutral atom in the standing-wave light field of a high-finesse optical cavity containing one photon on average, a single-photon optical trap, or SPOT for short. This trap has the novel feature that the light field is also used to observe the atom in real time. The oscillatory motion of the trapped atom induces well-resolved oscillations of the light intensity. Periodic structure is visible in the fourth-order intensity correlation function, attributed to long-distance flights of the atom along the standing wave. The finite duration of those flights provides evidence for cavity-mediated cooling of atoms. We discuss the various mechanisms determining the trapping time and compare the results with a quantum-jump Monte Carlo simulation to interpret the observed signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2769-2787
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of modern optics
Issue number14-15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


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