Using various properties of atoms as a basis for novel technologies has attracted a lot of interest in recent years. Such properties include large electric-dipole moments, shifts of quantized energy levels in external fields, ultranarrow linewidths of transitions between quantum states, etc. Prominent examples of already-existing atom-based technologies include room-temperature Rydberg-atom-based field sensors, portable atomic clocks and quantum simulators based on cold atoms or trapped ions. In this talk, I will overview the concurrent efforts to realize novel atom-based technologies and discuss the relevant physics behind these ideas. In the second part, I will focus on what is being done in this direction by our group on the sub-basement level of the Physics Department at UMich. In particular, I will discuss the recent demonstration of how Rydberg atoms can be used to monitor electric fields within cold-ion sources. The talk will be concluded with a brief outlook for the ongoing effort to realize a novel type of atom interferometer for inertial sensing.
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