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Enhanced optical and electric manipulation of a quantum gas of KRb molecules

TitleEnhanced optical and electric manipulation of a quantum gas of KRb molecules
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCovey, JP
Academic DepartmentPhysics
DegreePh.D.
Number of Pages359
Date Published2017-07
UniversityUniversity of Colorado
Abstract

Polar molecules are an ideal platform for studying quantum information and quantum simulation due to their long-range dipolar interactions. However, they have many degrees of freedom at disparate energy scales and thus are difficult to cool. Ultracold KRb molecules near quantum degeneracy were first produced in 2008. Nevertheless, it was found that even when prepared in the absolute lowest state chemical reactions can make the gas unstable. During my PhD we worked to mitigate these limitations by loading molecules into an optical lattice where the tunneling rates, and thus the chemistry, can be exquisitely controlled. This setting allowed us to start using the rotational degree of freedom as a pseudo-spin, and paved the way for studying models of quantum magnetism such as the t-J model and the XXZ model. Further, by allowing molecules of two "spin"-states to tunnel in the lattice, we were able to observe a continuous manifestion of the quantum Zeno effect, where increased mobility counterintuitively suppresses dissipation from inelastic collisions. In a deep lattice we observed dipolar spin-exchange interactions, and we were able to elucidate their truly many-body nature. These two sets of experiments informed us that the filling fraction of the molecules in the lattice was only ~ 5–10%, and so we implemented a quantum synthesis approach where atomic insulators were used to maximize the number of sites with one K and one Rb, and then these "doublons" were converted to molecules with a filling of 30%. Despite these successes, a number of tools such as high resolution detection and addressing as well as large, stable electric fields were unavailable. Also during my PhD I led efforts to design, build, test, and implement a new apparatus which provides access to these tools and more. We have successfully produced ultracold molecules in this new apparatus, and we are now applying AC and DC electric fields with in vacuum electrodes. This apparatus will allow us to study quantum magnetism in a large electric field, and to detect the dynamics of out-of-equilibrium many-body states.