Title

Coherent Control of Trap-Loss Collisions and Molecule Formation with Frequency-Chirped Light

Date of Completion

January 2010

Keywords

Physics, General|Physics, Molecular|Physics, Atomic

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

We present results on coherent control of ultracold trap-loss collisions and molecule formation using frequency-chirped light. The chirps, either positive or negative, sweep 1 GHz in 100 ns and are red-detuned below the D2 line in either 85Rb or 87Rb. The pulses are Gaussian and have a full-width at half-maximum (FWHM) of 40 ns. In our collision experiments, we demonstrate coherent control of ultracold 85Rb collisions using nonlinear (either concave-down or concave-up) frequency chirps in the region of pulse detunings where coherent collision blocking occurs. We attribute this to the excitation radius of the negative chirp following the excited-wavepacket trajectory. We find that this process is dependent on the nonlinearity of the negative chirp. Specifically, the concave-down negative chirp yields a higher value of the collisional loss rate constant β than those of the concave-up and linear negative chirps. For nonlinear positive chirps, we find no significant dependence of β on the nonlinearity of the chirp. Our measurements are supported by quantum mechanical simulations of the collisional process. ^ In our molecule formation experiments, we use resonantly-enhanced multi- photon ionization to directly detect ground-state 87Rb 2 formed though photoassociation (PA) by linearly frequency-chirped pulses and subsequent spontaneous decay. In particular, we measure the rates of formation (R) and photodestruction (Γ PD) for positive and negative frequency-chirped pulses, as well as for unchirped pulses. We find that the unchirped pulse yields higher values of both R and ΓPD than those of the positively-chirped pulse, whose values in turn are greater than those of the negatively-chirped pulse. Our results are important steps towards coherent control of ultracold ground-state molecule formation. ^