Measurement of the atom number distribution in an optical tweezer using single photon counting

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A. Fuhrmanek, Y.R.P. Sortais, P. Grangier, A. Browaeys


Phys. Rev. A 82, 023623 (2010)

We demonstrate in this paper a method to reconstruct the atom number distribution of a cloud containing a few tens of cold atoms. The atoms are first loaded from a magneto-optical trap into a microscopic optical dipole trap and then released in a resonant light probe where they undergo a Brownian motion and scatter photons. We count the number of photon events detected on an image intensifier. Using the response of our detection system to a single atom as a calibration, we extract the atom number distribution when the trap is loaded with more than one atom. The atom number distribution is found to be compatible with a Poisson distribution.