Continuous all-optical deceleration and single-photon cooling of molecular beams

A.M. Jayich, A.C. Vutha, M.T. Hummon, J.V. Porto, W.C. Campbell 2014. PRA 89, 023425 (2014)


Ultracold molecular gases are promising as an avenue to rich many-body physics, quantum chemistry, quantum information, and precision measurements. This richness, which flows from the complex internal structure of molecules, makes the creation of ultracold molecular gases using traditional methods (laser plus evaporative cooling) a challenge, in particular due to the spontaneous decay of molecules into dark states. We propose a way to circumvent this key bottleneck using an all-optical method for decelerating molecules using stimulated absorption and emission with a single ultrafast laser. We further describe single-photon cooling of the decelerating molecules that exploits their high dark state pumping rates, turning the principal obstacle to molecular laser cooling into an advantage. Cooling and deceleration may be applied simultaneously and continuously to load molecules into a trap. We discuss implementation details including multilevel numerical simulations of strontium monohydride. These techniques are applicable to a large number of molecular species and atoms with the only requirement being an electric dipole transition that can be accessed with an ultrafast laser.