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Home   /   Post Doctorat   /   Atomic sensors based on metastable 4He

Atomic sensors based on metastable 4He

Atomic and molecular physics Condensed matter physics, chemistry & nanosciences Engineering sciences Instrumentation


Detection of weak magnetic fields opens the way to new techniques of medical imaging, geophysics and chemistry. Optically pumped magnetometers are currently the most accurate and precise sensors for magnetic fields [1]. Our lab works on optically-pumped magnetometers based on a thermal gas of helium-4 metastables, a spin-one electronic species. Our main achievement in last years has been the design and space qualification of the most recent generation of magnetometers available for spatial exploration, which were launched by ESA Swarm mission [2].
We are now starting a new project in order to explore further applications of magneto-optical effects of metastable helium. Indeed, dichroism and birefringence have been observed on 4He from the very first times of optical pumping [3] but, in strong contrast with alkali [4], the nonlinear regimes which can be reached from the introduction of 1083 nm lasers have been hardly studied. These regimes open new possibilities for realizing not only magnetometers but also other kind of useful sensors which address a broader range of industrial applications.
We are looking for a motivated postdoc candidate willing to work towards a better understanding of these effects but also towards harnessing them for building ultra-precise sensors. The applicant should have a PhD in physics, ideally with a good background in experimental atomic physics and/or laser physics. Our lab is well equipped and staff engineers will be available to assist the post doc on technical aspects related to optics, design of electronics and magnetic materials. The results will be divulgated in form both of journal publications and of patents.
[1] Kominis et al., Nature 422 (2003)
[2] http://smsc.cnes.fr/SWARM
[3] Laloë, Leduc, Minguzzi, Journal de Physique, 30 (1969)
S. Pancharatnam, J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Phys. 1 (1968).
[4] Budker et al., Rev. Mod. Phys. 74 (2002)


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