Available student project - Atomic magnetometer for exploring physics beyond the standard model

Research fields

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics
  • Quantum Science and Applications
A rubidium gas cell can glow when you use too much laser power!

Project details

Our group plans to join the GNOME project.  To date, this international collaboration lacks a magnetometer in the southern hemisphere.  We have the parts required to build one, the task will be to assemble the parts, characterise the performance of the device and then attach the magnetic field readout to a GPS synchronised data logger to compare with other devices in the global network.

An Rb atomic magnetometer works by shining a laser beam through a gas cell containing some Rb atoms.  When properly prepared, the Rb vapour is sensitive to the magnetic field.  A change in the magnetic field will induce a shift in the polarisation of the light that passes through the gas cell.  To measure the magnetic field, therefore, all we have to do is measure the polarisation of the light that has interacted with the atoms.

Atomic magnetometers are ultra-sensitive devices.  They can measure fields at the femto-Tesla level, which is about 40 billion times weaker than the Earth magnetic field.  Unlike SQUID sensors, atomic magnetometers work at room temperature.

Required background

Atomic physics and optical physics will be very helpful.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • Honours project

Contact supervisor

Buchler, Ben profile

Other supervisor(s)

Campbell, Geoff profile
Postdoctoral Fellow

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster