Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 6-19-2007

Publication Title

Physical Review A

ISSN

1050-2947

Volume

75

Issue

6

First Page

062903-1

Last Page

062903-7

DOI

10.1103/PhysRevA.75.062903

Abstract

In this paper we demonstrate a technique of utilizing magnetically trapped neutral 87Rb atoms to measure the magnitude and direction of stray electric fields emanating from surface contaminants. We apply an alternating external electric field that adds to (or subtracts from) the stray field in such a way as to resonantly drive the trapped atoms into a mechanical dipole oscillation. The growth rate of the oscillation’s amplitude provides information about the magnitude and sign of the stray field gradient. Using this measurement technique, we are able to reconstruct the vector electric field produced by surface contaminants. In addition, we can accurately measure the electric fields generated from adsorbed atoms purposely placed onto the surface and account for their systematic effects, which can plague a precision surface-force measurement. We show that baking the substrate can reduce the electric fields emanating from adsorbate and that the mechanism for reduction is likely surface diffusion, not desorption.

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