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Atomic pairs offer platform for frigid physics

An illustration of how potassium (blue) and rubidium (red) atoms can pair off and hop around in an optical lattice. (Credit: The Jin, Ye, and Rey groups and Steve Burrows, JILA.)

For scientists investigating the behavior of cold atoms trapped in a web of interfering lasers, two kinds of atoms can be better than one. The second species allows researchers to study more complex dynamics, like how the interactions between atoms caught in a 3-D lattice can form molecules stationed at the same site.

Recently, in Nature Communications, researchers at JILA in Boulder, Colorado, in conjunction with JQI Emeritus Fellow Paul Julienne, reported the details of how molecules of potassium and rubidium can emerge by controlling the strength of a magnetic field. Julienne provided a key theoretical insight to explain some surprising dynamics of the atom pairs—dubbed doublons when they are at the same location but not strongly bound. The experimenters are using this system to study the transition between doublons and molecules.

Read the JILA story to learn more about the new work and how it fits in with JILA’s quest to build a second generation “molecule factory” to explore the dynamics of doublons and molecules in lattices.

Research Contact
Paul Julienne
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