In ordinary optics one exploits the interaction of radiation with matter to manipulate beams of light. One can also turn the tables and control beams of charged or neutral material particles through their interaction with light. There are deep analogies and similarities between these two sorts of optics, even though they involve very different kinds of interactions between matter and radiation. Perhaps one can exploit every such interaction for some kind of “optics”—controlling beams of photons or massive particles. In this article we will describe recent developments in the laser optics of atomic beams—how experimenters are using the radiation pressure of laser light to manipulate neutral atoms.

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