In this project, we use "plasmonic" amplification of electric fields
near surfaces to create force-field traps for individual atoms. In
addition, if carefully chosen nanostructures are placed on the
surface, the traps can be even stronger, and arrays of tightly packed
traps can be patterned. Atoms in these traps will exhibit quantum
mechanics in their interactions with one another, and can potentially
be used in "atomtronics" chips and as quantum simulators.
However, since atoms will roll out of these traps unless they are
initially moving very slowly, how do we slow them in the first place?
We use a laser technique called Doppler cooling to reduce their
temperature to within a thousandth of a degree above absolute zero.
This video describes, in layman's terms, how shining the right color
of laser light onto atoms can actually cool them!