An optical conveyor belt for single neutral atoms

D Schrader, S Kuhr, W Alt, M Muller, V Gomer, D Meschede

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Using optical dipole forces we have realized controlled transport of a single or any desired small number of neutral atoms over a distance of a centimeter with sub-micrometer precision. A standing wave dipole trap is loaded with a prescribed number of cesium atoms from a magneto-optical trap. Mutual detuning of the counter-propagating laser beams moves the interference pattern, allowing us to accelerate and stop the atoms at preselected points along the standing wave. The transportation efficiency is close to 100%. This optical 'single-atom conveyor belt' represents a versatile tool for future experiments requiring deterministic delivery of a prescribed number of atoms on demand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-824
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Physics B: Lasers and Optics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001



  • optical conveyor belt
  • single neutral atoms
  • optical dipole forces
  • standing wave dipole trap
  • cesium atoms
  • magneto-optical trap

Cite this

Schrader, D., Kuhr, S., Alt, W., Muller, M., Gomer, V., & Meschede, D. (2001). An optical conveyor belt for single neutral atoms. Applied Physics B: Lasers and Optics, 73(8), 819-824.