An optical tweezer array of ultracold molecules

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Science  13 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1156-1158
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax1265

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Tweezing cold molecules

Arrays of optical tweezers have been used to trap atoms, but trapping and laser-cooling molecules in this setting is tricky. Such an approach would, however, be generalizable to many molecular species. Anderegg et al. created an optical tweezer array of calcium monofluoride molecules, which were laser cooled to their ground state (see the Perspective by Kotochigova). By distinguishing between single and multiple molecules in the tweezers, the researchers were able to observe molecular collisions. Boasting exquisite control over individual molecules, the optical tweezer array platform holds much promise for extending the applications of ultracold molecules.

Science, this issue p. 1156; see also p. 1079


Ultracold molecules have important applications that range from quantum simulation and computation to precision measurements probing physics beyond the Standard Model. Optical tweezer arrays of laser-cooled molecules, which allow control of individual particles, offer a platform for realizing this full potential. In this work, we report on creating an optical tweezer array of laser-cooled calcium monofluoride molecules. This platform has also allowed us to observe ground-state collisions of laser-cooled molecules both in the presence and absence of near-resonant light.

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