Fast and high-yield fabrication of axially symmetric ion-trap needle electrodes via two step electrochemical etching
Despite the progress in building sophisticated microfabricated ion traps, Paul traps employing needle electrodes retain their significance due to the simplicity of fabrication while producing high-quality systems suitable for quantum information processing, atomic clocks etc. For low noise operations such as minimizing `excess micromotion', needles should be geometrically straight and aligned precisely with respect to each other. Self-terminated electrochemical etching, previously employed for fabricating ion trap needle electrodes employs a sensitive and time-consuming technique resulting in a low success rate of usable electrodes. Here we demonstrate an etching technique for quick fabrication of straight and symmetric needles with a high success rate and a simple apparatus with reduced sensitivity to alignment imperfections. The novelty of our technique comes from using a two-step approach employing turbulent etching for fast shaping and slow etching/polishing for subsequent surface finish and tip cleaning. Using this technique, needle electrodes for an ion-trap can be fabricated within a day, significantly reducing the setup time for a new apparatus. The needles fabricated via this technique have been used in our ion-trap to achieve trapping lifetimes of several months.