Zeeman deceleration of electron-impact-excited metastable helium atoms

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Abstract

We present experimental results that demonstrate—for the first time—the Zeeman deceleration of helium atoms in the metastable 23S1 state. A more than 40% decrease of the kinetic energy of the beam is achieved for deceleration from 490 m -1 to a final velocity of 370 m s-1. Metastable atom generation is achieved with an electron-impact-excitation source whose performance is enhanced through an additional discharge-type process which we characterize in detail. Metastable helium is efficiently generated even in a mixture of other noble gases that have much lower excitation energies. Comparison of deceleration data at different electron beam pulse durations confirms that a matching between the initial particle distribution and the phase-space acceptance of the decelerator is crucial for the production of a decelerated packet with a well-defined velocity distribution. The experimental findings are in good agreement with three-dimensional numerical particle trajectory simulations.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Volume17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015