Molecules cooled to ultralow temperatures provide fundamental new insights to molecular interaction dynamics in the quantum regime. In recent years, researchers from various scientific disciplines such as atomic, optical, and condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, and quantum science have started working together to explore many emergent research topics related to cold molecules, including cold chemistry, strongly correlated quantum systems, novel quantum phases, and precision measurement.
Since 1999 and 2000, there has been a remarkable convergence of the fields of ultrafast optics, opti cal frequency metrology, and precision laser spectroscopy — a convergence that our lab was privileged to help facilitate. A remarkable transformation took place in these fields as unprecedented advances occurred in the control of optical phases ranging from the ultrashort (femtoseconds) to laboratory time scales (seconds). Today, a single-frequency continuous optical field can achieve a phase coherence time exceeding 1 s.
Our group explores many facets of ultracold strontium (Sr), emphasizing precision measurement and quantum state engineering and manipulation of atomic states. The group has achieved exquisite technical control via precision stabilization of lasers and the realization of ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Early on, we focused on precision measurements of Sr electronic transitions, which occur at optical frequencies, to explore the possibility of developing an optical atomic clock.