Tuning of dipolar interactions and evaporative cooling in a three-dimensional molecular quantum gas
Ultracold polar molecules possess long-range, anisotropic and tunable dipolar interactions, providing opportunities to probe quantum phenomena that are inaccessible with existing cold gas platforms. However, experimental progress has been hindered by the dominance of two-body loss over elastic interactions, which prevents efficient evaporative cooling. Although recent work has demonstrated controlled interactions by confining molecules to a two-dimensional geometry, a general approach for tuning molecular interactions in a three-dimensional stable system has been lacking. Here we demonstrate tunable elastic dipolar interactions in a bulk gas of ultracold 40K87Rb molecules in three dimensions, facilitated by an electric field-induced shielding resonance that suppresses the reactive loss by a factor of 30. This improvement in the ratio of elastic to inelastic collisions enables direct thermalization. The thermalization rate depends on the angle between the collisional axis and the dipole orientation controlled by an external electric field, a direct manifestation of the anisotropic dipolar interaction. We achieve evaporative cooling mediated by the dipolar interactions in three dimensions. This work demonstrates full control of a long-lived bulk quantum gas system with tunable long-range interactions, paving the way for the study of collective quantum many-body physics.
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