We consider the ballistic expansion of a cloud of trapped atoms falling under the influence of gravity. Using a simple coordinate transformation, we derive an analytical expression for the time-of-flight signal. The properties of the signal can be used to infer the initial temperature of the cloud. We first assume a point size cloud with an isotropic velocity distribution to explain the physical basis of the calculation. The treatment is then generalized to include a finite-size cloud with an anisotropic velocity distribution, and an exact result for the signal is derived. The properties of the signal are discussed, and an intuitive picture is presented to explain how initial conditions determine the features of the signal.
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PAPERS| February 01 2002
A calculation of the time-of-flight distribution of trapped atoms
I. Yavin, M. Weel, A. Andreyuk, A. Kumarakrishnan; A calculation of the time-of-flight distribution of trapped atoms. Am. J. Phys. 1 February 2002; 70 (2): 149–152. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.1424266
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