Magneto-optical trapping of diatomic molecules
Laser cooling in a magneto-optical trap (MOT) is the workhorse technique for atomic physics in the ultracold regime, serving as the starting point in applications from optical clocks to quantum degenerate gases. Recently there has been great interest in producing cold, trapped polar molecules, with proposed applications including precision measurement, quantum information, quantum simulation, and ultracold chemistry. The complex energy structure of molecules, which includes ro-vibrational terms, complicates the feat of slowing and trapping a molecular beam by optical methods. I will discuss how these challenges can be overcome, and present results from our MOT of strontium fluoride, the first and so far only molecular MOT. I will then give an outlook on the future of molecular laser cooling.
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