Direct laser cooling and trapping of diatomic molecules
The advent of laser cooling and trapping ignited a scientific revolution in atomic physics. It was long considered a practical impossibility to extend these methods to diatomic molecules. Here, unlike in atoms, photon absorption can excite the internal degrees of freedom (vibration and rotation), which both interrupts the optical cycling needed for motional cooling and leads to internal-state heating. Our group recently demonstrated that, nevertheless, methods very similar to those of standard atomic laser cooling and trapping can be applied to some molecules. We have achieved sub-Doppler cooling in 1-D, radiation pressure slowing and stopping of a molecular beam, and most recently 3-D magneto-optical trapping of SrF molecules. This promises to open a wide range of scientific applications, from precision measurements to quantum information and quantum simulation, to precise control over chemical reactions. In this talk I will discuss our methods and results, and give an outlook on future directions arising from this work.
Host: Luis Orozco