The National Institute of Standards and Technology has recently begun a program to develop a primary pressure standard that is based on ultra-cold atoms, covering a pressure range of 1 × 10-6 Pa to 1 × 10-10 Pa and possibly lower. These pressures correspond to the entire ultra-high vacuum (UHV) range and extend into the extreme-high vacuum (XHV). This cold-atom vacuum standard (CAVS) is both a primary standard and absolute sensor of vacuum. The CAVS is based on the loss of cold, sensor atoms (such as the alkali-metal lithium) from a magnetic trap due to collisions with the background gas (primarily H2) in the vacuum. The pressure is determined from a thermally-averaged collision cross section, which is a fundamental atomic property, and the measured loss rate. The CAVS is primary because it will use collision cross sections determined from ab initio calculations for the Li + H2 system. Primary traceability is transferred to other systems of interest using sensitivity coefficients.
Pub Type: Journals
Vacuum standards, pressure standards, ultra-high vacuum standards, ultra-cold atoms, atom trapping, magnetic trap