George Ruff, Emeritus

George A. Ruff



Professor Emeritus

Carnegie Science Hall, Room 109

My students and I study the forces light exerts on atoms. We build novel lasers and “magneto-optical atom traps”, using the pressure of light to suspend clouds of atoms in vacuum. Recently, we succeeded in trapping two different kinds of atoms (Rb and Cs) simultaneously, allowing us to study interactions between two clouds of ultracold atoms.

I am a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Bates College. I’m also faculty advisor to students in the engineering programs. In the regular semesters, I teach Physics 308 (Quantum Mechanics) and Physics 231-232 (Laboratory Physics). In Quantum, we consider some thought-provoking problems, like how electrons behave like waves and can even “tunnel” through a barrier. It’s a great course for reviewing everything you’ve learned about mathematics. Lab physics is almost the opposite – a real “hands on” course. We measure the speed of light, the gravitational constant, the electron charge, and the mass of the neutron. We also use the machine tools in the physics shop, building a precision optical mount, and we use a vacuum evaporator to deposit a metal film only 800 atoms thick in an experiment on the Hall effect.

During the short term, I teach Physics S30 (Laboratory Electronics). Electronics is another “hands on” course. We build a wide variety of circuits: simple diode bridges, RC filters, transistor and integrated circuit amplifiers, digital logic networks, analog to digital converters, and an individual “project” designed by each student. If you take this course you will get a lot of experience with laboratory instruments – analog and digital oscilloscopes, function generators, digital multimeters, and spectrum analyzers.

My research is in atomic and laser physics, especially the study of ultracold atoms in magneto-optical atom traps. A thesis student, Amy Sullivan, and I recently developed an apparatus for simultaneous trapping of two kinds of atoms, so we can study collisions between ultracold atom clouds. My favorite web site describing MOT research is that of Phil Gould , who majored in physics at Bates and is now a professor at the University of Connecticut.

Some other things you’ll find on my¬†HOMEPAGE

  • A description of how atom traps work.
  • Pictures from our trip home from New Zealand.
  • Pictures from our recent trip to Nepal
  • and more!