Role of source coherence in atom interferometry


The role of source cloud spatial coherence in a Mach-Zehnder-type atom interferometer is experimentally investigated. The visibility and contrast of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) and three thermal sources with varying spatial coherence are compared as a function of interferometer time. At short times, the fringe visibility of a BEC source approaches 100% nearly independent of π pulse efficiency, while thermal sources have fringe visibilities limited to the π pulse efficiency. More importantly for precision measurement systems, the BEC source maintains interference at interferometer times significantly beyond the thermal source.

Phys. Rev. A, (89), pp. 023626,