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A Quantum Gas of Polar Molecules

TitleA Quantum Gas of Polar Molecules
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsNi, K-K

Ultracold polar molecular gases promise new directions and exciting applications in precision measurements, ultracold chemistry, electric-field controlled collisions, dipolar quantum gases, and quantum information sciences. This thesis presents experimental realization of a near quantum degenerate gas of polar molecules, where the phase-space density of the gas achieved is more than 10 orders of magnitude higher than previous results. The near quantum degenerate gas of polar molecules is created using two coherent steps. First, atoms in an ultracold gas mixture are converted into extremely weakly bound molecules near a Fano-Feshbach resonance. Second, the weakly bound molecules are transferred to the ro-vibronic ground state using a coherent two-photon Raman technique. The fact that these ground-state molecules are polar is confirmed with a spectroscopic measurement of the permanent electric dipole moment. Finally, manipulation of the molecular hyperfine state is demonstrated; this allows molecules to be populated in a single quantum state, in particular, the lowest energy state. With an ultracold gas of molecules, full control of molecular internal state, and electric field as a new handle, ultracold molecular collisions, including ultracold chemical reactions and dipolar collisions, are studied.