We present a method for measuring ion-oscillation frequencies in quadrupole traps (Paul, Penning, and combined traps). The method depends on a statistical analysis of the delays between detected fluorescence photons. We have used the method to verify the oscillation frequencies for magnesium ions in a Penning trap as a function of the dc voltage applied to the trap electrodes. We demonstrate that, as expected, the method measures the space-charge shifted (individual-ion) oscillation frequency and not the frequency at which the ion cloud as a whole moves. However, our data suggest that for most of our operating conditions, the space-charge shift is negligible. We also discuss the effect of the contact potential arising from areas of the trap electrodes that are coated by excess Mg from the atomic beam used. We show that this extra potential shifts the center of the Penning trap and makes it unstable for low values of the applied voltage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics