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Colloquium: Precision measurements with polarized atomic spins

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Michael Romalis, Princeton University
04 September 2014 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
117 Osmond Laboratory
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(814) 863-3076
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Spin-polarized gases provide a powerful tool for precision measurements because they typically contain a large number of atoms with a long spin coherence time.  They are used for sensitive measurements of magnetic fields as well as other types of interactions that couple  to particle spin.  I will describe recent advances in the precision of these measurements that allow us to detect very small magnetic fields and enable new applications, for example recording of magnetic fields generated by the brain. Spin-polarized ensembles  are also sensitive to several types of interactions beyond the Standard Model, for example, symmetry breaking due to violation of local Lorentz invariance.  To search for such effects, we have installed a sensitive spin sensor at the South Pole, which is a preferred location for such experiments due to alignment of the Earth's rotation direction and the gravity direction.