Optics and interferometry with atoms and molecules

Alexander D. Cronin, Jörg Schmiedmayer, David E. Pritchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1065 Scopus citations


Interference with atomic and molecular matter waves is a rich branch of atomic physics and quantum optics. It started with atom diffraction from crystal surfaces and the separated oscillatory fields technique used in atomic clocks. Atom interferometry is now reaching maturity as a powerful art with many applications in modern science. In this review the basic tools for coherent atom optics are described including diffraction by nanostructures and laser light, three-grating interferometers, and double wells on atom chips. Scientific advances in a broad range of fields that have resulted from the application of atom interferometers are reviewed. These are grouped in three categories: (i) fundamental quantum science, (ii) precision metrology, and (iii) atomic and molecular physics. Although some experiments with Bose-Einstein condensates are included, the focus of the review is on linear matter wave optics, i.e., phenomena where each single atom interferes with itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1129
Number of pages79
JournalReviews of Modern Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 6 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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