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Fully Saturated Hydrocarbons as Hosts of Optical Cycling Centers

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Designing closed, laser-induced optical cycling transitions in trapped atoms or molecules is useful for quantum information processing, precision measurement, and quantum sensing. Larger molecules that feature such closed transitions are particularly desirable, as the increased degrees of freedom present new structures for optical control and enhanced measurements. The search for molecules with robust optical cycling centers is a challenge which requires design principles beyond trial-and-error. Two such principles are proposed for the particular M-O-R framework, where M is an alkaline earth metal radical, and R is a ligand: (1) Large, saturated hydrocarbons can serve as ligands, R, due to a substantial HOMO-LUMO gap that encloses the cycling transition, so long as the R group is rigid. (2) Electron-withdrawing groups, via induction, can enhance Franck-Condon factors (FCFs) of the optical cycling transition, as long as they do not disturb the locally linear structure in the M-O-R motif. With these tools in mind, larger molecules can be trapped and used as optical cycling centers, sometimes with higher FCFs than smaller molecules.

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