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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