Atoms Colder Than Space – A Portable Laser Cooling Apparatus

In collaboration with our colleagues at University of Strathclyde, we have constructed a portable exhibit which allows the public to view atoms which are laser cooled to one millionth of a degree above absolute zero.

Using the principles of laser cooling, and a novel design which allows us to use only a single laser beam, our Magneto-Optical Trap is available for events such as Science Festivals, and debuted at the International Year of Light Scottish Launch event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh in February 2015.

Further information on the departmental webpages at University of St Andrews and University of Strathclyde.

If you are interested in booking this exhibit, please contact us.

Other Activities

The group has organised and taken part in many outreach activities, introducing a variety of interactive experiments to family audiences. Such events have included the popular Lab in a Lorry, the Fife Science Festival and the Dundee Science Festival.


lablorry Our group has participated in experiments for the Lab in a Lorry programme, giving children (aged 11-14) a chance to engage in hands on science. The variety of experiments we have demonstrated range from singing wine glasses to the basics of how cameras work. For more information regarding the programme, go to http://www.labinalorry.org.uk/.

DSCF4042_Cropped We have also taken part in the Fife Science Festival and assisted the Dundee Science Centre, introducing a range of scientific phenomena to family audiences. One such display for the Dundee Science Centre was titled “Light, Lasers and Really Cold Atoms” which showcased the field of our group through demonstrations and interactivity.

FemalesInScience3 Our group has also organised and supervised workshops, encouraging school pupils to consider scientific issues and scientific careers, as well engaging in specific programs to promote the uptake of Physics and Engineering by girls, such as the “Girls into Physics and Engineering at George Watson College” event.

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Cold Atoms Group
School of Physics and Astronomy
University of St Andrews
North Haugh
St Andrews
Fife, KY16 9SS, UK

phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3186
fax: +44 (0)1334 46 3104