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A distributed, graphical user interface based, computer control system for atomic physics experiments

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2 Author(s)
Keshet, Aviv ; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Physics, Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT/Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA ; Ketterle, Wolfgang

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Atomic physics experiments often require a complex sequence of precisely timed computer controlled events. This paper describes a distributed graphical user interface-based control system designed with such experiments in mind, which makes use of off-the-shelf output hardware from National Instruments. The software makes use of a client-server separation between a user interface for sequence design and a set of output hardware servers. Output hardware servers are designed to use standard National Instruments output cards, but the client-server nature should allow this to be extended to other output hardware. Output sequences running on multiple servers and output cards can be synchronized using a shared clock. By using a field programmable gate array-generated variable frequency clock, redundant buffers can be dramatically shortened, and a time resolution of 100 ns achieved over effectively arbitrary sequence lengths.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments  (Volume:84 ,  Issue: 1 )