First demonstration of matter wave technique that could cool molecules


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First demonstration of matter wave technique that could cool molecules

Date: 19/08/2015

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.

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Source: University of Southampton

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