"Ultracold Polyatomic Molecules – N Atoms Too Many"

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 4:15pm
428 Pupin Hall

John Doyle

Harvard University

"Ultracold Polyatomic Molecules – N Atoms Too Many"

Control of molecules is greatly aided by cooling their external degrees of freedom. Exquisite quantum state control has already been achieved with atomic species, leading to great progress in quantum computation, simulation, searches for physics beyond the Standard Model, and novel collisions and chemical reactions. Molecules are now a current frontier in cold matter science, with diatomic molecules taking center stage at the moment. Moving to the next frontier, the creation of ultracold polyatomic molecules presents new laboratory challenges. One of our key long-term scientific goals is to achieve for polyatomic molecules the kind of single-state control now available with atoms with a very wide variety of polyatomic structures. We believe that this will open up important new scientific opportunities.

About the speaker

John Doyle's research centers on trapping neutral particles, study of fundamental collisional processes in atoms and molecules, and lab and underground-observatory-based searches for physics beyond the Standard Model. He is also currently working to realize new techniques to trap molecules and atoms and produce intense beams of the same.

The Doyle group has pioneered a general technique for cooling and loading atoms and molecules into traps. First demonstrated with atomic europium and chromium and molecular CaH, the technique uses cryogenic helium buffer gas to cool atoms to below 1 Kelvin. The cold atoms are then loaded into a magnetic trap and then evaporatively cooled. This has led to the discovery of several new findings on the physics of cold collisions as well as doubling the number of species magnetically trapped, including exotic atoms such as Dy. In addition, by developing a new technique for producing heavy, polar radical molecules in an intense beam, he has launched with collaborators a new EDM search. Heavy, highly polar molecules are ideally suited to the search for a permanent electric dipole moment (EDM) in the electron. The discovery of an EDM in these experiments would indicate new physics beyond the standard model. Work towards production of ultracold molecules aims also to build hybrid quantum devices. Finally, work is ongoing to use XUV scintillation in liquid neon and argon to search for a key Dark Matter candidate, the WIMP.