Collisions of Cold Polar Molecules (CoPoMol)

Stark decelerator

Project summary

A major objective of the EuroQUAM programme is to achieve quantum degeneracy for polar molecules. It is already possible to slow polar molecules almost to rest using inhomogeneous electric fields and trap them at temperatures around 1 milliKelvin. However, quantum degeneracy requires considerably lower temperatures, and to achieve it for decelerated molecules it will be necessary to develop a second-stage cooling mechanism that can reach the sub-microKelvin regime. A very promising approach to this is sympathetic cooling, in which the molecules are cooled by contact with ultracold atoms. This proposal brings together two leading experimental groups (Berlin, London) and three theoretical groups (Durham, Warsaw, Nijmegen) to explore sympathetic cooling and to develop our understanding of atom-molecule and molecule-molecule collisions. The interplay between theory and experiment was pivotal in the creation of atomic quantum gases and will be equally crucial for polar molecules. This proposal is for a closely integrated experimental and theoretical study. We will investigate both the atom-molecule collisions that are crucial for sympathetic cooling and the molecule-molecule collisions that will become important in traps containing cold polar molecules. This will allow us to design the trap geometries needed to achieve sympathetic cooling for polar molecules. It will provide the basis for achieving condensation to form a dipolar quantum gas and pave the the way to the development of controlled ultracold chemistry.

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Project Leader:

Jeremy Hutson, University of Durham, UK

Principal Investigators:

Gerard Meijer, Max-Planck Gesellschaft Berlin, DE

Robert Moszynski, University of Warsaw, PL

Michael Tarbutt, Imperial College London, UK

Associated Groups:

Gerrit Groenenboom, University of Nijmegen, NL