Second-scale nuclear spin coherence time of ultracold 23Na40K molecules

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Science  28 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6349, pp. 372-375
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal5066

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Extending the coherence time of molecules

Quantum properties of atoms and molecules can be exploited for precision measurements or quantum information processing. The complex state structure of molecules can be exploited, but it is hard to preserve the coherence between pairs of those states in applications. Park et al. created fermionic molecules of NaK in the rovibrational ground state that maintained coherence between their nuclear spin states on a time scale of 1 second. This long coherence time makes dipolar ultracold molecules a valuable quantum resource.

Science, this issue p. 372


Coherence, the stability of the relative phase between quantum states, is central to quantum mechanics and its applications. For ultracold dipolar molecules at sub-microkelvin temperatures, internal states with robust coherence are predicted to offer rich prospects for quantum many-body physics and quantum information processing. We report the observation of stable coherence between nuclear spin states of ultracold fermionic sodium-potassium (NaK) molecules in the singlet rovibrational ground state. Ramsey spectroscopy reveals coherence times on the scale of 1 second; this enables high-resolution spectroscopy of the molecular gas. Collisional shifts are shown to be absent down to the 100-millihertz level. This work opens the door to the use of molecules as a versatile quantum memory and for precision measurements on dipolar quantum matter.

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