Author (Your Name)

Bill Whitledge, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Physics and Astronomy Dept.


Duncan A. Tate


This project was to measure the atomic density of (85)Rb atoms in a magneto optical trap using a low-intensity probe laser. Additionally, a dark spontaneous force optical trap was constructed in an attempt to boost the trap density. The dark spot failed to appreciably increase the overall trap density (which remained steady at - N = 10^10 atoms/cm^3) but it did increase the density of dark-state atoms in the trap by an order of magnitude. This is a useful result since many experiments on cold Rydberg atoms involve exciting atoms starting in the ground state rather than the first excited state, which is occupied by a large number of atoms in a traditional magneto optical trap. The dark spot trap shows promise for boosting both the density of dark state atoms in the trap as well as the overall trap density. However, the latter goal will require further adjustment to the trap.


Rydberg Atoms, Diode Lasers, Magnetic Optical Trap, Atomic Density