Design, microfabrication and characterization of alkali vapor cells for miniature atomic frequency references

Abstract : Chip-scale atomic clocks (CSACs) provide unprecedented frequency stability within volumes down to a fewcubic centimeters and power consumptions as low as 100mW.In this work, we determine the optimal parameters regarding the design and the fabrication of cesium vaporcells, one of the key components of a CSAC. For this purpose, cells were characterized on both short and longtermperformances in clock setups. In addition, we propose solutions to overcome present limitations includingthe operating temperature range, the device microfabrication cost and the ease of integration of the physicspackage.A novel mixture of buffer-gas composed of neon and helium was found to potentially extend the operating rangeof the device above 80 C, meeting the industrial requirements. Unlike the well-known buffer gas compositions,this mixture is compatible with solid cesium dispensers whose reliability is established. As an alternativeto buffer gases, wall coatings are known to limit the relaxation induced by sidewalls. Here, we investigatedoctadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) coatings. An anti-relaxation effect has been observed in centimeter-scale cellsand a process was developed to coat microfabricated cells.Other cesium sources have been investigated to overcome the drawbacks imposed by solid cesium dispensers. Apaste-like dispenser, which can be deposited collectively, was explored and has shown stable atomic densities sofar. Single-use zero-leak micro valves were also proposed to hermetically seal and detach cells from a commoncesium reservoir.Eventually, the first steps toward a microfabricated physics package were made. In particular, an originalcell design combining diffraction gratings with an anisotropically etched single-crystalline silicon sidewalls wascharacterized and exhibited remarkable CPT contrasts despite a reduced cavity volume, which could lead to amore compact physics package. Finally, cells with integrated heating and temperature sensing resistors werefabricated and their magnetic field compliance was characterized in a compact physics package prototype.
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Vincent Maurice. Design, microfabrication and characterization of alkali vapor cells for miniature atomic frequency references. Atomic Physics [physics.atom-ph]. Université de Franche-Comté, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016BESA2001⟩. ⟨tel-02154818⟩

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