An ultracold high-density sample of rovibronic ground-state molecules in an optical lattice

Danzl, Johann G. and Mark, Manfred J. and Haller, Elmar and Gustavsson, Mattias and Hart, Russell and Aldegunde, Jesus and Hutson, Jeremy M. and Nägerl, Hanns-Christoph (2010) An ultracold high-density sample of rovibronic ground-state molecules in an optical lattice. Nature Physics, 6 (4). pp. 265-270. ISSN 1745-2473

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Abstract

Control over all internal and external degrees of freedom of molecules at the level of single quantum states will enable a series of fundamental studies in physics and chemistry(1,2). In particular, samples of ground-state molecules at ultralow temperatures and high number densities will facilitate new quantum-gas studies(3) and future applications in quantum information science(4). However, high phase-space densities for molecular samples are not readily attainable because efficient cooling techniques such as laser cooling are lacking. Here we produce an ultracold and dense sample of molecules in a single hyperfine level of the rovibronic ground state with each molecule individually trapped in the motional ground state of an optical lattice well. Starting from a zero-temperature atomic Mott-insulator state(5) with optimized double-site occupancy(6), weakly bound dimer molecules are efficiently associated on a Feshbach resonance(7) and subsequently transferred to the rovibronic ground state by a stimulated four-photon process with >50% efficiency. The molecules are trapped in the lattice and have a lifetime of 8 s. Our results present a crucial step towards Bose-Einstein condensation of ground-state molecules and, when suitably generalized to polar heteronuclear molecules, the realization of dipolar quantum-gas phases in optical lattices(8-10).