PHYSICS: OH Trapped by Magnets

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Science  13 Jul 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5835, pp. 171b
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5835.171b

Confining atoms with a combination of optical and magnetic fields has led to the formation of new states of matter and provided a tunable test bed to explore many-body atomic and electronic interactions; however, its extension to molecules has been slow. Ultracold molecules (milikelvin temperatures and below) are of interest for a number of additional applications, including studies of quantum phase transitions and precision spectroscopy. One approach to confining polar molecules has relied on inhomogeneous electric fields. Sawyer et al. present an alternative method that traps molecules magnetically. They demonstrate the technique on hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which have appreciable magnetic as well as electric dipole moments. Lifetimes in the magnetoelectrostatic trap ranged from 20 to 500 ms, depending on the background pressure. The technique allows the additional degree of freedom of an electrical field to be superimposed onto the trapped molecules and should facilitate further studies in the direction of controlled molecular collisions and chemical reactions. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 253002 (2007).

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