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0.7.1 Jan 21, 2022
0.7.0 Jan 21, 2022
0.6.0 Dec 7, 2021

#144 in Simulation


6.5K SLoC


Simulate cold atoms with rust.

New: Paper out now on arxiv

crate_version crate_version build unit_tests

atomecs is a rust crate for simulating ultracold atom experiments. It supports numerous features:

  • Laser-cooling of atoms by optical scattering forces.
  • Doppler forces on atoms that scatter light, including the random fluctuations that give rise to the Doppler temperature limit.
  • Magnetic fields, implemented on a grid or through simple analytical models.
  • Hot atoms generated by an oven.
  • Hot atoms generated on the surface of a simulation volume (eg, to simulate thermal vapor in a chamber).
  • Cooling light beams, defined by their detuning and gaussian intensity profiles.
  • Volumes that define bounds for the simulation.
  • File output in binary or text format.
  • Thorough unit testing to ensure simulation results are correct.
  • Good parallel performance on modern multi-core CPUs.
  • Simulations can be wrapped using python/matlab, as shown in the source_optimisation_example or the matlab examples.
  • Optical dipole force traps.
  • Confinement of atoms by magnetic fields, e.g. quadrupole and TOP traps.

Getting Started

Instructions for installing rust can be found on the rust website, which includes the rust toolchain and cargo command line tool.

After cloning this repository using git, you can run examples using the cargo command line tool, e.g. cargo run --release --example 1d_mot. The matlab examples show how to load and plot simulation results.

You can build the program documentation using cargo doc.

Data-oriented design

atomecs follows the data-oriented Entity-Component-System (ECS) pattern, which is implemented using specs. ECS is well suited to high-performance simulations, and is sufficiently flexible to accomodate changing design goals.

If you are unfamiliar with data-oriented design - for instance, if you come from an object-oriented background - it is strongly recommended that you read up before diving into the code. Some useful ECS resources are:

  • Mike Acton's GDC talk, which discusses the advantages of ECS + DOD (in the context of the Unity game engine).
  • The specs book which describes the ECS used in atomecs.
  • Although written for Unity/C#, the concepts in the Unity Entities Package Documentation are very useful to understand.

Current Limitations

  • atom-atom interactions are not implemented. Most of our current work deals with atom sources, which have low steady-state number densities, so we haven't implemented this. Results for steady-state 3D MOTs should be interpreted carefully.

Getting Involved

Our goal is to make AtomECS user-friendly, with friendly developers! Please feel free to use the issue tracker to ask questions, or join the conversations happening within the issues.

If you would like to submit a contribution:

  • Take a look at the issues page to see if there is something suitable for a new user.
  • Freely develop and change your own fork.
  • When a feature is finished, raise a pull request to merge your changes back into the AtomECS repository. The team will openly review your code and suggest changes/improvements.

The Team

The current developers of atomecs are:

The long term goal for atomecs is to have a complete simulation suite for cold atom experiments. If you'd like to get involved in development, please do!


~230K SLoC