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Production and application of translationally cold molecules

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Meijer,  Gerard
Molecular Physics, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Bethlem, H. L., & Meijer, G. (2003). Production and application of translationally cold molecules. International Reviews in Physical Chemistry, 22(1), 73-128. doi:10.1080/0144235021000046422.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-1176-7
Abstract
Inspired by the spectacular successes in the field of cold atoms, there is currently great interest in cold molecules. Cooling molecules is useful for various fundamental physics studies and gives access to an exotic regime in chemistry where the wave property of the molecules becomes important. Although cooling molecules has turned out to be considerably more difficult than cooling atoms, a number of methods to produce samples of cold molecules have been demonstrated over the last few years. This paper aims to review the application of cold molecules and the methods to produce them. Emphasis is put on the deceleration of polar molecules using time-varying electric fields. The operation principle of the array of electrodes that is used to decelerate polar molecules is described in analogy with, and using terminology from, charged-particle accelerators. It is shown that, by applying an appropriately timed high voltage burst, molecules can be decelerated while the phase-space density, i.e. the number of molecules per position-velocity interval, remains constant. In this way the high density and low temperature in the moving frame of a pulsed molecular beam can be transferred to the laboratory frame. Experiments on metastable CO in states that are either repelled by or attracted to high electric fields are presented. Loading of slow molecules into traps and storage rings is discussed.