PH.D. Defense: Christian Lytle

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 1:00pm
    Franken Conference Room (Meinel 821)

    Spectroscopy of Ultra-cold Neutral Mercury


    In this dissertation, I describe our progress in developing and characterizing several component systems critical to the operation of a mercury optical clock. As a candidate atomic clock species, neutral mercury possesses several advantages over other atoms such as strontium and ytterbium. The atomic structure of mercury is conducive to a relatively simple cooling scheme, and the ultraviolet transitions of the atom reduce susceptibility to blackbody radiation by an order-of-magnitude relative to other common species.

    I will discuss the development of two generations of laser systems used to generate the 254 nm cooling light: the original OPSL laser, and a novel fiber-amplified ECLD. I will also highlight technical details of the trapping and cooling system, including characterizations of the cold-atom temperature, atom number, and density.

    I will present details of the 265.6 nm spectroscopy laser, the linewidth stabilization system, and the results of our detection and analysis of the doppler-broadened mercury clock transition. We have demonstrated spectroscopy of the clock transition with an actively stabilized sub-kilohertz linewidth probe laser. Finally, I discuss modifications to our apparatus and experimental attempts to observe the photon recoil shift and the two-photon transition.

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