Experimental Quantum Physics

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Ultrafast and efficient detection of single atoms


We have experimentally demonstrated a detection scheme allowing state analysis of single optically trapped atoms in less than 1 microsecond with an overall detection efficiency exceeding 98%. The method is based on hyperfine-state-selective photoionization and subsequent registration of the correlated photoion-electron pairs by two opposing channel electron multipliers. The scheme might be a key ingredient for future applications in quantum information science, e.g., imaging and site-specific readout of atoms in optical lattices. Furthermore, it could also be used for in situ, real-time probing of ultracold atomic ensembles with sub-Poissonian accuracy or as detector for a loophole-free test of Bell’s inequality with a pair of trapped atoms at remote locations.

Channel electron multipliers

A pair of channel electron multipliers in a vacuum glass cell.