Laser cooling of atoms usually necessitates several laser frequencies. Alkaline atoms, for example, are cooled by two lasers with a frequency difference in the gigahertz range. This gap cannot be closed with simple shifting techniques. Here, we present a method of generating sidebands at 6.6 GHz by modulating the current of a tapered amplifier, which is seeded by an unmodulated master laser. The sidebands enable trapping of 1.1 × 10987Rb atoms in a chip-based magneto-optical trap. Compared to the direct modulation of the master laser, this method allows for an easy implementation, a fast adjustment over a wide frequency range, and the simultaneous extraction of unmodulated light for manipulation and detection. The low power consumption, small size, and applicability for multiple frequencies benefit a wide range of applications reaching from atom-based mobile sensors to the laser cooling of molecules.

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