Giant oscillations in a magneto-optical trap

Andrea di Stefano, Marie Fauquembergue, Philippe Verkerk, Daniel Hennequin

Phys. Rev. A 67 033404 (2003)

The present paper reports on the study of deterministic instabilities in the atomic cloud of a magneto-optical trap. Giant periodic and erratic self-oscillations are experimentally observed and analyzed through a simple original model taking into account the shadow effect and the spatial distribution of the atoms in the cloud. We show that giant oscillations are induced by a homoclinic orbit merging in the neighborhood of a Hopf bifurcation.