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Understanding Molecular Ion-Neutral Atom Collisions for the Production of Ultracold Molecular Ions

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Technical Report,01 Oct 2011,30 Sep 2014

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University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles United States

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In the last five years, the study of ultracold molecular ions has emerged as a new discipline within AMO to bring molecules under control. It is now clear that a trapped sample of ultracold molecular ions affords many of the benefits of ultracold neutral molecules, while significantly reducing experimental complexity e.g. large trap depths, long trap lifetimes, and efficient detection. Despite the infancy of the field, there is already a clear path to a wide range of important studies, including the investigation of quantum chemistry, precision measurement of molecular transitions, and the implementation of scalable quantum computation architecture. Under this award, we performed a series of experiments aimed at understanding the collisional physics between ultracold neutral atoms and molecular ions. This work resulted in several important observations of cold atom-ion photochemistry that were among the first of their kind, and have helped to open the field of cold atom-ion chemistry. In addition to these reactivity studies, we also developed tools for analyzing trapped molecular ions and recording their spectra, as well as solved several long standing problems regarding trapped ion thermodynamics. Finally, using the results of all of this work, we demonstrated that both the vibrational and external degrees of freedom of trapped molecular ions are efficiently cooled by sympathetic cooling collisions with laser-cooled atoms. Thus, through our previous ARO support, we have developed many of the necessary tools and techniques to help open the field of ultracold molecular ion research.

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