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Researchers from the University of Southampton have demonstrated for the first time a new laser cooling method, based upon the interference of matter waves, that could be used to cool molecules.
Our ability to produce samples of ultra-cold atoms has revolutionised experimental atomic physics, giving us devices from atomic clocks (the core of GPS) and enabling a range of quantum devices, including the possibility of a quantum computer.
However, the current technique of cooling atoms down from room temperature to the ultra-cold regime using optical molasses (the preferential scattering of laser photons from a particle in motion which leads to slowing) is limited to atoms with favourable electronic structure. As a result, only a small fraction of atomic elements, along with a select few diatomic molecules, have been cooled in this manner.
Writing in Physical Review Letters, the research team at Southampton has provided the first proof-of-principle demonstration of a new laser cooling technique, based on a proposal by Martin Weitz and Nobel laureate Ted Hänsch in 2000, which is in principle applicable to atoms and molecules as yet untamed by conventional laser cooling.For more click here
Source: University of Southampton