Microwave manipulation of an atomic electron in a classical orbit

  • Maeda H
  • Norum D
  • Gallagher T
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Although an atom is a manifestly quantum mechanical system, the electron in an atom can be made to move in a classical orbit almost indefinitely if it is exposed to a weak microwave field oscillating at its orbital frequency. The field effectively tethers the electron, phase-locking its motion to the oscillating microwave field. By exploiting this phase-locking, we have sped up or slowed down the orbital motion of the electron in excited lithium atoms by increasing or decreasing the microwave frequency between 13 and 19 gigahertz; the binding energy and orbital size change concurrently.

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  • H. Maeda

  • D. V L Norum

  • T. F. Gallagher

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