Ultracold Dipolar Gas of Fermionic NaK Molecules

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Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Jee Woo Park, Sebastian A. Will, and Martin W. Zwierlein

Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 205302 (2015)


Physics Synopsis

MIT News

Coverage in Scientific American, Pro-Physik.de, Huffington Post, Live Science, and others

We report on the creation of an ultracold (500 Nanokelvin) dipolar gas of fermionic NaK molecules in their absolute rovibrational and hyperfine ground state. The molecular gas is formed from a mixture of ultracold gases of sodium and potassium atoms, which are first associated into a very loosely bound (Feshbach) molecule. These highly vibrationally excited molecules are then coherently transferred into the absolute rovibrational ground state. The two-photon process bridges an energy gap worth 7500 Kelvin, without the injection of heat. The nearly quantum degenerate molecular gas displays a lifetime longer than 2.5 seconds, highlighting NaK’s stability against two-body chemical reactions. A homogeneous electric field is applied to induce a dipole moment of up to 0.8 Debye. With these advances, the exploration of many-body physics with strongly dipolar Fermi gases of NaK molecules is within experimental reach.

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