My group uses a two-step process to prepare ultracold molecules of NH, a simple free radical. The first step, supersonic expansion, forces NH molecules through a small opening into a vacuum system, where intermolecular collisions cool the rapidly expanding gas (400 m/s) to less than 1 K. The second step uses varying electric fields (Stark deceleration) to slow the cold molecules to rest. Once the molecules are cold and stopped, we can subject them to magnetic trapping, electrostatic trapping, laser cooling, or sympathetic cooling. I plan to work with theorist John Bohn to investigate collisions of cold polar NH radicals (produced in this process) with each other and with ultracold atoms such as Rb.
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