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Strong saturation absorption imaging of dense clouds of ultracold atoms

By G. Reinaudi, T. Lahaye, Z. Wang and D. Guéry-odelin

Abstract

We report on a far above saturation absorption imaging technique to investigate the characteristics of dense packets of ultracold atoms. The transparency of the cloud is controlled by the incident light intensity as a result of the non-linear response of the atoms to the probe beam. We detail our experimental procedure to calibrate the imaging system for reliable quantitative measurements, and demonstrate the use of this technique to extract the profile and its spatial extent of an optically thick atomic cloud. c ○ 2008 Optical Society of America OCIS codes: 110.0110, 020.7010 Recently there has been a resurgent interest in the production of dense samples [1,2] containing a large number of cold neutral atoms with highly compressed magnetooptical traps (MOT) [3,4]. These studies, combined with optical trapping, opened the way to a simplified and very rapid production of Bose-Einstein condensates [5], and may also play a key role in the production of a cw atom laser based on the periodical coupling of atomic packets into a magnetic guide, yielding a promising startin

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