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Title: Development of a magneto-optical trap for CaF molecules
Author: Hambach, Moritz
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 751X
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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Laser cooling and trapping in a magneto-optical trap (MOT) have been essential to the success of cold atom physics in the last decades. Recently, the application of the same techniques to molecules has begun. The complexity of even a simple diatomic molecule makes laser cooling difficult, but promises new applications in many areas of research. In this thesis I describe the development of the first three-dimensional MOT of calcium fluoride (CaF) molecules. First, a cryogenic buffer gas source was set up, producing a pulsed beam of 9.3*10^10 molecules per steradian per pulse with forward velocities around 170 m/s. A similar source for very large molecules was set up during a 5 month internship at the University of Vienna. Next, the molecular pulse was slowed down to the capture velocity of a MOT using chirped laser slowing, resulting in about 7*10^5 CaF molecules passing through the typical MOT volume of 1 cm^3 at velocities of 15+-5 m/s. A new deceleration method, called Zeeman-Sisyphus deceleration, was also investigated. In this method molecules move through a spatially varying magnetic field and are optically pumped between low- and high-field seeking states in such as a way that they are always losing kinetic energy. The method promises to deliver more slow molecules because the molecules are guided transversely as they are decelerated. A small prototype was built and the optical pumping step was tested successfully. Finally, 7.6*10^3 CaF molecules were trapped in a MOT and cooled to a temperature of 8.5 mK. The radial trap frequency is 2 pi*130 Hz and the damping constant is beta=9.5*10^2 s^-1. The lifetime is about 100 ms and depends strongly on the scattering rate. This MOT is an an ideal starting point for a wide range of new experiments with ultracold molecules.
Supervisor: Tarbutt, Michael ; Sauer, Ben Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral