Abstract: Tremendous advances in the sensitivity of optically pumped magnetometers have occurred in the past 10 years. Such magnetometers now meet or surpass the performance of superconducting detectors. With their lower cost and smaller footprint, optical magnetometers promise clinical applications of biomagnetism. This talk will present the physics behind these remarkable devices, and discuss their application to an important clinical problem–the detection and correction of heart abnormalities in fetuses.
Short Biography: Thad Walker is Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1988, studying spin-exchange optical pumping of nuclei. He then went to the University of Colorado, where he did some of the earliest experiments on magneto-optical traps. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1990, his cold-atom laboratory is well-known for studies of ultra-cold collisions in traps, and, most recently, demonstrating the first neutral atom quantum gate using Rydberg atoms. His hot atom research has focussed on studies of spin-exchange optical pumping of nuclei and ultra-sensitive magnetometry, including the first demonstration of fetal magneto-cardiography using an optical magnetometer. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and a Packard Fellow.