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A cryofuge for cold-collision experiments with slow polar molecules

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Science  12 Oct 2017:
eaan3029
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3029

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Abstract

Ultracold molecules represent a fascinating research frontier in physics and chemistry, but it has proven challenging to prepare dense samples at low velocities. Here we present a solution to this goal by a non-conventional approach dubbed cryofuge. It employs centrifugal force to bring cryogenically cooled molecules to kinetic energies below 1 K × kB in the laboratory frame, with corresponding fluxes exceeding 1010/s at velocities below 20 m/s. By attaining densities higher than 109/cm3 and interaction times longer than 25 ms in samples of fluoromethane as well as deuterated ammonia, we observe cold dipolar collisions between molecules and determine their collision cross sections.

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