The Journal of Chemical Physics published new research from Assistant Physics Professor Derek Kimball and his colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Vavilov State Optical Institute (Russia), UC Berkeley, Princeton University, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the US Naval Air Systems Command.
In their article, "Investigation of antirelaxation coatings for alkali-metal vapor cells using surface science techniques", the authors summarize, "Many technologies based on cells containing alkali-metal atomic vapor benefit from the use of antirelaxation surface coatings in order to preserve atomic spin polarization. In particular, paraffin has been used for this purpose for several decades and has been demonstrated to allow an atom to experience up to 10 000 collisions with the walls of its container without depolarizing, but the details of its operation remain poorly understood. We apply modern surface and bulk techniques to the study of paraffin coatings in order to characterize the properties that enable the effective preservation of alkali spin polarization. These methods include Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, atomic force microscopy, near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy, and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. We also compare the light-induced atomic desorption yields of several different paraffin materials. Experimental results include the determination that crystallinity of the coating material is unnecessary, and the detection of CvC double bonds present within a particular class of effective paraffin coatings. Further study should lead to the development of more robust paraffin antirelaxation coatings, as well as the design and synthesis of new classes of coating materials."