Author (Your Name)

Ryan Cole, Colby CollegeFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Physics and Astronomy Dept.


Duncan A. Tate


The number density of cold atoms confined in a magneto-optical trap (MOT) is critically dependent on the intensity of the lasers used to cool the sample. To generate large optical powers while retaining the practicality of homemade external cavity diode lasers (ECDLs), a tapered amplifier (TA) system was designed and constructed to amplify the output of an existing 780 nm, continuous-wave ECDL. The amplifier’s performance is discussed in terms of its gain and power output. Under standard operating conditions, optical amplification of 12 dB is achieved, with a maximum power output of 0.75 W. The completed amplifier is installed into an existing MOT at Colby College, and its effect is analyzed in terms of the number density of trapped samples of rubidium-85. MOT measurements are given demonstrating an increase in these number densities by a factor of ten. We conclude with initial results to quantify the amplifier’s effect on the dynamics of ultra-cold plasmas created from the trapped atom samples.


Tapered Amplifier, Plasma, MOT, Laser, Rubidium, Ultra-Cold Plasma