All automated systems require sensing of the surrounding environment. The rising relevance of artificial intelligence in society demands sensors that are accurate, light-weighted, cheap and robust. Among the best laboratory sensors - in a broad sense including clocks, accelerometers, gyroscopes…- , those based on individual atoms stand out for their phenomenal stability and accuracy, but most are bulky and fragile, nearly all are expensive. CRYST3 envisions a future technology where the core element, the sensor head containing the atoms, is greatly reduced in size and cost, and made more robust and more suitable for industrialization. The project will deliver the seminal contribution of a novel material where individual alkali atoms at microkelvin temperatures are encapsulated in the hollow core of a photonic crystal optical fiber, fully functionalized, hermetically sealed and integrated with light sources. In this novel material, we expect novel physical phenomena: atoms acquire long-range interactions that are mediated by the light field and tailored through the design of the fiber; spontaneous spatial order of the atoms, akin to crystallization, emerge; light is scattered by the atoms in a collective manner that results in superradiant emission. CRYST3 will generate the first prototype of the novel material, fully operational and customized, from numerical design, manufacturing, post-processing and testing, to industrialization assessment by a leading photonic company. The technological advancements will be intertwined with theoretical analysis and experimental demonstrations of novel loading, trapping and cooling techniques to create a large sample of ultracold atoms in a hollow-core fiber, which will serve as the platform for the scientific breakthroughs of: (1) cooling the atoms inside the fiber, (2) observing their emergent self-ordering and (3) detecting the superradiant properties of the emitted light.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Francesco Minardi

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia "Augusto Righi"

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna(Italy)

Other Participants:
Centre Technologique Alphanov (France)
Institut D'Optique Theorique Et Appliquee Iota -Supoptique (France)
Wigner Fizikai Kutatokozpont (Hungary)
Università  degli Studi di MODENA e REGGIO EMILIA (Italy)
Glophotonics (France)
Universite De Limoges (France)
Universitat Innsbruck Bk - Ibk 1 (Austria)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 3.586.428,75
Project Duration in months: 48
Start Date: 01/04/2021
End Date: 31/03/2025

Cordis webpage

Industry, innovation and infrastructure This project contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.