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Precise Quantum Measurement of Vacuum with Cold Atoms



Daniel Barker, Bishnu Acharya, James A. Fedchak, Nikolai Klimov, Eric Norrgard, Julia Scherschligt, Eite Tiesinga, Stephen Eckel


We describe the cold-atom vacuum standards (CAVS) under development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The CAVS measures pressure in the ultra-high and extreme-high vacuum regimes by measuring the loss rate of sub-millikelvin sensor atoms from a magnetic trap. Ab-initio quantum scattering calculations of cross sections and rate coefficients relate the density of background gas molecules or atoms to the loss rate of ultra-cold sensor atoms. The resulting measurement of pressure through the ideal gas law is traceable to the second and the kelvin, making it a primary realization of the pascal. At NIST, two versions of the CAVS have been constructed: a laboratory standard used to achieve the lowest possible uncertainties and pressures and a portable version that is a potential replacement for the Bayard-Alpert ionization gauge. Both types of CAVSs are connected to a combined extreme-high vacuum flowmeter and dynamic expansion system to enable sensing of a known pressure of gas. In the near future, we anticipate being able to compare the laboratory scale CAVS, the portable CAVS, and the flowmeter/dynamic expansion system to validate the operation of the CAVS as both a standard and vacuum gauge
Review of Scientific Instruments


vacuum, metrology, cold atoms, laser cooling, quantum sensing


Barker, D. , Acharya, B. , Fedchak, J. , Klimov, N. , Norrgard, E. , Scherschligt, J. , Tiesinga, E. and Eckel, S. (2022), Precise Quantum Measurement of Vacuum with Cold Atoms, Review of Scientific Instruments, [online],, (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created December 20, 2022