Stark deceleration methods for cold molecule experiments


The growing field of cold molecule physics has demonstrated many methods of quantum control for precision measurement and molecular interaction studies. One particular method is Stark deceleration, which uses electric field gradients to produce packets of slow polar molecules. Since Stark deceleration does not increase phase-space density, the efficiency of the deceleration process is critical in determining the final cold molecule density. This dissertation describes three different Stark deceleration techniques. The first type of deceleration is pulsed-pin deceleration. We use this technique to produce slow OH molecules that can be trapped for cold collision studies. A two photon state-selective detection system, which includes a 118 nm photon, is used to determine the density distribution of OH in the trap. We explore the advantages and limitations to creating 118 nm light.

The second and third types of Stark deceleration are pulsed-ring and traveling-wave methods of running a ring-geometry decelerator. Ring-geometry decelerators present improved deceleration efficiencies due to the cylindrical symmetry of the electrodes and true three-dimensional confine- ment. The pulsed-ring mode of the ring decelerator uses commercial high-voltage switches to apply discrete pulses to the ring electrodes. The continuous operation mode of the ring decelerator uses varying sine-wave voltages to create a traveling Stark potential well and has proven to be incredibly challenging due to the analog high voltage requirements of the system. In order to bring ND3 seeded in krypton (\~415 m/s) down to rest in the laboratory, sine wave voltages with amplitudes up to \textpm10 kV, currents up to 500 mA, and a bandwidth of 30 kHz down to DC are required. We describe a high-voltage amplifier that can be used for traveling-wave deceleration. The traveling-wave Stark deceleration mode is then compared to the pulsed-ring Stark deceleration mode and cases where one mode is superior to another are discussed.

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Department of Physics
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University of Colorado Boulder
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