Behavior of atoms in a compressed magneto-optical trap
We investigate the behavior of a cloud of atoms in a magneto-optical trap, which—after collection—is compressed when the field gradients of the trap magnetic field are increased. We measure sizes and shapes of the atom cloud as a function of laser detuning, magnetic field gradient, and number of trapped atoms. A transient density increase of more than an order of magnitude has been achieved. Moreover, reproducible Gaussian density distributions are observed at large detunings and intermediate magnetic-field gradients, permitting an accurate determination of density.