The recoil of an atom due to the absorption of up to 64 photons is measured, using laser-cooled cesium atoms which are made to interfere in an atomic fountain. Measurement of the photon recoil allows a determination of ℏ/mCs, and hence the fine-structure constant. The measurement is described and a detailed theoretical and experimental study of potential systematic errors is presented. A relative precision in the photon recoil measurement of 0.1 ppm is obtained in two hours of data collection. The measurement is currently 0.85 ppm below the accepted value of ℏ/mCs. We cannot now formally ascribe a systematic error, but suspect that the bulk of the discrepancy is due to imperfections of the interferometer beams used to induce the Raman transitions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)