James McGilligan (University of Strathclyde)

Micro-fabricated atomic sensors

The separation of atomic energy levels provides a previously unobtainable accuracy and precision in metrology, with an SI traceable reference to frequency and wavelength [1]. This achievable performance is widely exploited in atomic sensors, built around platforms in both cold and thermal ensembles to manipulate atom-light interactions to the benefit of real-world applications in navigation, geological surveying, medicine, communication, and finance. In recent years, our research team has focussed on the micro-fabrication of core components to aid the miniaturisation of atomic sensors to the chip-scale, where their mass producibility and portability enable deployment out of laboratory environments [2]. Our research has focussed on the realisation of a lab-on-a-chip platform, where we address measurements in length, time, rotation, and magnetic field as our primary sensor foundation. This talk will highlight our recent work on chip-scale components that facilitate a new-generation of atomic sensors. This work includes an overview of our work in the research of chip-scale atomic clocks [3,4], tunable wavelength references [5], and portable magnetometers [6,7]. Additionally, we will discuss the novel fabrication approaches we have developed with an outlook to in-field deployment of quantum technology [8].


[1] J. Kitching, Chip-scale atomic devices, Appl. Phys. Rev. 5, 031302 (2018)

[2] J. P. McGilligan, et. al. Micro-fabricated components for cold-atom sensors, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 93, 091101 (2022)

[3] J. P. McGilligan, et. al., Laser cooling in a chip-scale platform, Appl. Phys. Lett. 117, 054001 (2020)

[4] A. Bregazzi, et. al. A simple imaging solution for chip-scale laser cooling, Appl. Phys. Lett. 119, 184002 (2021)

[5] S. Dyer, et. al. “Chip-scale packages for a tunable wavelength reference and laser cooling platform”, Phys. Rev. Appl. 19, 044015 (2023)

[6] S. Dyer et al., “Nitrogen buffer gas pressure tuning in a micro-machined vapor cell” Appl. Phys. Lett. 123, 074001 (2023)

[7] D. Hunter, et al. “Free-induction-decay magnetic field imaging with a microfabricated Cs vapor cell” Opt. Exp. 31, 33582-22595 (2023)

[8] S. Dyer, et. al. Micro-machined deep silicon atomic vapor cells, J. Appl. Phys. 132, 134401 (2022)