Cold Atom Control System for PC

Posted on Feb 6, 2013

We have developed a powerful yet inexpensive and easy to construct experiment control system. The construction of the system together with the control software is described here. All circuits and software are free to download and use for nonprofit. The system was developed for the BEC (Bose-Einstein condensation) experiments in the group of Mark Raizen at the University of Texas at Austin and is based on a system that one of the authors developed previously for experiments at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. The hardware here includes a design for analog outputs (16-bit DACs) and digital outputs on a general purpose parallel bus which is easy to expand upon and interface with a variety of devices (i.e. DDS devices, microprocessors, etc).

Cold Atom Control System for PC
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

The hardware outputs are laboratory friendly with BNC-type outputs and line drive capacity. The software is intended for cold atom experiments and contains the code to talk with the hardware developed here. This system represents a simple to understand and cost effective method to control laboratory experiments. Here, we show an overview of the hardware implementation that we currently use. This setup involves an NI6533 card from National Instruments for allowing the computer to talk to the output hardware. The manual below suggests other (cheaper, cooler) methods to do this which we have not used since we already had the NI card. The experiment control system (15MB) (Rubidium experiment version) (Natrium experiment version (15MB)) (Clean version to start with (15MB)) for download here was devised for the Rubidium and Natrium Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) experiments in the group of Mark Raizen, but can easily be adapted to many other cold atom experiments. It is a completely rewritten and improved version of the control programs used in the Lithium and Helium experiments of the ENS group in Paris. The design objective is to give the user a simple but very powerful programming interface to implement the sequence of a BEC type experiment. The program is written in Visual C++. The program communicates with a data acquisition computer, running the latest version of the data acquisition program "Vision", over TCP/IP. This...

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