The characteristics of a cold cloud of 85Rb can be non-destructively examined using an optical nanofiber. The nanofiber is a submicron-diameter cylindrical waveguide fabricated from commercially-available optical fiber using a heat-and-pull rig. The nanofiber can be used as a 'dark' or 'bright' probe depending on whether laser light is coupled into the nanofiber. We demonstrate the use of an optical nanofiber as an absorption spectroscopy tool for cold atoms. A frequency-scanned probe beam is launched through the nanofiber and the resonant light is absorbed at the waist of the nanofiber by nearby cold 85Rb atoms. We present recent singlephoton absorption results and comment on the role of surface interactions. Future work on 2-photon absorption using excited state electronic transitions in 85Rb is discussed.

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