This thesis project ate my life for several months - and I am extremely glad I did it. I became interested in building a Zeeman slower for JETLab because I was considering graduate work in atomic physics, and this let me explore that field on a deeper and more practical level. It also combined interesting physical principles with a chance to play with some very cool toys (usually referred to as "hands-on problem solving"). Lastly, it allowed me to make a real and tangible contribution to the group; it's nice to know that something I did at Duke will be useful to people there long after I've graduated.
ABSTRACT: This document describes the design and construction of a Zeeman slower, a device which takes thermal 6Li atoms with an average velocity of around 1500 m/s and, over a distance of roughly 30 cm, reduces their velocity to a few tens of meters per second in a continuous manner via laser cooling and the Zeeman effect. The lithium atoms can then be confined in a magneto-optical trap (MOT) and used for experiments involving ultracold fermions. The design in this document represents a significant improvement over previous Zeeman slowers. In particular, it is simpler to build, more compact, and should prove much easier to maintain. Although more tests need to be performed before we can draw final conclusions on the new design?s efficacy, the results of extensive computer modeling and preliminary testing described in this document indicate a high probability of success.
Here is the thesis in PDF: Thesis.pdf (about 400 KBytes)