The group for enabling technologies is working on the development of cutting edge technologies. Examples of current developments are given below.
UHV Technologies for Ultra Cold Atom Experiments
To perform cold atom experiments, it is essential to minimize the collision of the cooled atoms with the background gas. This is achieved by maintaining a ultra-high vacuum of < 5E-10 hPa around the atoms. The vacuum systems needs to compensate for outgassing and leakage, which requires vacuum pumps. Vacuum systems are usually a big driver of the mass budget of cold atom experiments. We are focussing on determining and minimizing the outgassing and leakage rates of materials and sealing techniques, while improving the pumping rates by investigating new technologies and qualifying these technologies for the use in Space.
Gaseous alkali metals are widely used to perform cold atom experiments. Elements like Rubidium or Potassium are highly reactive especially with water or water vapor, which makes them difficult to handle. Dispensers are widely used to provide these elements, however they usually require a high activation energy and also release unwanted substances into the vacuum chamber. Thus we develope pure and compact alkali metal ovens to overcome the above-mentioned disadvantages.