Making the most of interference: the application of laser speckle and computer-generated holography to cold atoms, optical trapping and precision metrology.

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In this talk, I will present a variety of types of structured light, how they can be generated, and what they can be used for. The development of new laser beam shaping methods is important in a variety of fields within optics, atomic physics and biophotonics. Spatial light modulators offer a highly versatile method of time-dependent beam shaping, based on imprinting a phase profile onto an incident laser beam that determines the intensity in the far-field. I will review our approaches to tailoring the light field, and show how this can be used for the manipulation of ultracold atoms and levitated microparticles, with experiments including the realisation of topologically-protected qubits and the fastest man-made spinning object.
Even the interference resulting from scattering of laser light by a random medium, which corrupts the beam profile into a grainy pattern known as speckle, can be made to be useful. The formation of speckle is commonly regarded as a randomization process which destroys information contained within the initial beam and is deleterious to many optical systems. Indeed, many engineers study speckle to remove its effect. Intriguingly however, the processes that produce the speckle are entirely linear, and there is growing recognition that this complex pattern is rich in useful information on both the incident laser source and the environment, with startling potential uses. I will demonstrate our recent results, which show that speckle can be used as a sensitive probe of wavelength changes of the light, and how this can be used to stabilize the wavelength of lasers in a compact system suitable for portable cold atom systems.
Period7 Mar 2019
Event titleCollective Effects and Optomechanics in Ultra-cold Matter Winterschool 2019: Collective effects, structured light and quantum matter
Event typeCourse
LocationMunich, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational