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Specular versus diffuse reflection of atoms from an evanescent-wave mirror

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Abstract

We tested the specularity of the reflection of slow atoms from an evanescent-wave mirror at normal incidence. In two of the three prisms that we tested the atoms were reflected diffusely. This nonspecular reflection appears to be correlated with the rms roughness of the surface supporting the evanescent wave. Only the highest quality surface (rms roughness of the order of 0.1 nm) leads to specular reflection. This discovery imposes stringent limits on the use of these mirrors in atomic-optics experiments.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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