We investigate the effects of stimulated scattering of optical lattice photons on atomic coherence times in a state-of-the art Sr87 optical lattice clock. Such scattering processes are found to limit the achievable coherence times to less than 12 s (corresponding to a quality factor of 1×1016), significantly shorter than the predicted 145(40) s lifetime of Sr87's excited clock state. We suggest that shallow, state-independent optical lattices with increased lattice constants can give rise to sufficiently small lattice photon scattering and motional dephasing rates as to enable coherence times on the order of the clock transition's natural lifetime. Not only should this scheme be compatible with the relatively high atomic density associated with Fermi-degenerate gases in three-dimensional optical lattices, but we anticipate that certain properties of various quantum states of matter - such as the localization of atoms in a Mott insulator - can be used to suppress dephasing due to tunneling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas