Gray-Molasses Optical-Tweezer Loading: Controlling Collisions for Scaling Atom-Array Assembly

To isolate individual neutral atoms in microtraps, experimenters have long harnessed molecular photoassociation to make atom distributions sub-Poissonian. While a variety of approaches have used a combination of attractive (red-detuned) and repulsive (blue-detuned) molecular states, to date all experiments have been predicated on red-detuned cooling. In our work, we present a shifted perspective\textemdashnamely, the efficient way to capture single atoms is to eliminate red-detuned light in the loading stage and use bluedetuned light that both cools the atoms and precisely controls trap loss through the amount of energy released during atom-atom collisions in the photoassociation process. Subsequent application of reddetuned light then assures the preparation of maximally one atom in the trap. Using Λ-enhanced graymolasses for loading, we study and model the molecular processes and find we can trap single atoms with 90\% probability even in a very shallow optical tweezer. Using 100 traps loaded with 80\% probability, we demonstrate one example of the power of enhanced loading by assembling a grid of 36 atoms using only a single move of rows and columns in 2D. Our insight is key in scaling the number of particles in a bottom-up quantum simulation and computation with atoms, or even molecules.
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Physical Review X
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