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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toward Production of Ultracold Molecular Ions

  • Author(s): Chen, Kuang
  • Advisor(s): Hudson, Eric R
  • et al.

Ultracold cold molecular ions promise new directions in various studies of fundamental physics, such as precision measurements, ultracold chemistry and quantum information sciences. All these exciting applications require the molecular ion to be prepared at ground state of motional and internal degrees of freedom. It has been proposed that this stringent goal could be achieved through sympa-thetic cooling via collisions with laser-cooled neutral atoms. Three fundamental

issues of this method are addressed in this thesis.

First, an analytical model is established to accurately describe collision-induced heating of a single ion in contact with cold neutral atoms. This model reveals that micromotion interruption is the cause of heating, and gives results about steady-state temperature and sympathetic cooling rate verified by Monte-Carlo simulations. It also provides insight into the power-law tails observed in the

energy distribution of the trapped ion.

Next, we consider the case of multiple ions, whose inter-particle Coulomb repulsion causes ions in the Coulomb crystal state to spontaneously melt into a gas phase ion cloud, due to the same micromotion interruption mechanism. The analysis of this problem with a plasma model leads to the experimental determination of a quantity central to plasma physics, Coulomb Logarithm, in an

ion trap.

Finally, we demonstrate a molecular ion spectroscopy technique through the example of trap-depletion photodissociation of BaCl + . Although not sensitive to rotational structure, this method already reveals much about the fundamental quantum physics in the photodissociation process. The measured cross-section results paves the road toward state-selective spectroscopy currently going on in our lab.

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