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Functionalizing aromatic compounds with optical cycling centres.

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Molecular design principles provide guidelines for augmenting a molecule with a smaller group of atoms to realize a desired property or function. We demonstrate that these concepts can be used to create an optical cycling centre, the Ca(I)-O unit, that can be attached to a number of aromatic ligands, enabling the scattering of many photons from the resulting molecules without changing the molecular vibrational state. Such capability plays a central role in quantum state preparation and measurement, as well as laser cooling and trapping, and is therefore a prerequisite for many quantum science and technology applications. We provide further molecular design principles that indicate the ability to optimize and expand this work to an even broader class of molecules. This represents a great step towards a quantum functional group, which may serve as a generic qubit moiety that can be attached to a wide range of molecular structures and surfaces.

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