Counting cold collisions


We have explored experimentally a novel possibility to study exoergic cold atomic collisions. Trapping of small countable atom numbers in a shallow magneto-optical trap and monitoring of their temporal dynamics allows us to directly observe isolated two-body atomic collisions and provides detailed information on loss statistics. A substantial fraction of such cold collisional events has been found to result in the loss of one atom only. We have also observed for the first time a strong optical suppression of ground-state hyperfine-changing collisions in the trap by its repump laser field.

Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics