PerspectiveQuantum Science

Ultracold and unreactive fermionic molecules

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Science  22 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6429, pp. 820
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9149

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Summary

Many atomic elements have revealed their wavelike quantum nature at temperatures near absolute zero, and matter waves of molecules, which have richer symmetries and dynamics than atoms, could find diverse applications such as fundamental physics measurements, quantum information, and quantum simulations (1, 2). In the past 10 years, techniques of creating and controlling diatomic molecules in the ultracold regime have blossomed (3). The challenges of producing large numbers of long-lived ultracold molecules, however, had prevented the formation of a truly quantum molecular gas. On page 853 of this issue, De Marco et al. (4) now report the creation of a highly nonclassical gas of potassium-rubidium (40K87Rb) molecules. Observations of the gas demonstrated that destructive chemical reactions are strongly suppressed in this regime through antibunching effects that arise from Fermi-Dirac quantum statistics.