Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - COMIQ (Cold Molecular Ions at the Quantum Limit)

The EU Initial Training Network Cold Molecular Ions at the Quantum limit (COMIQ) was initiated in November 2013 with 10 partners (full beneficiaries) and one associated partner. The coordinating node is Aarhus University, Denmark, with Prof. Michael Drewsen being the scientific coordinator. The network will investigate how cooling, trapping, and control techniques applied to molecular ions can expand the realm of quantum technology, enhance precision measurements on molecular systems and lead to chemistry at the ultra-cold quantum limit. Molecular cations can generally be cooled to translational temperatures in the mK range by the Coulomb interaction with laser-cooled atomic cations [Molhave2000], where they become part of a Coulomb crystal, and thus representing a unique target for a range of investigations [Drewsen2003, Willitsch2012]. Over the past few years, several landmark studies have highlighted the potential of cold and trapped molecular ions for various advanced applications such as ultra-sensitive mass spectrometry [Drewsen2004], ultrahigh-resolution spectroscopy to test fundamental physical concepts [Koelemeij2007], cooling of macromolecular ions in the gas phase [Ostendorf2006] and chemical processes at very low temperatures [Willitsch2008]. As a very recent development, cooling and state preparation of the internal molecular degrees of freedom (rotation, vibration, spin) has been achieved [Schneider2010, Staanum2010, Tong2010, Bressel2012] and laser-cooled atomic ions have been successfully coupled to ultracold atomic gases [Zipkes2010a, Zipkes2010b, Schmid2010, Hall2011]. These advances now open up completely new perspectives for applications of cold molecular ions in the domain of quantum technology [Mur-Petit2012a, Leibfried2011, Ding2011].

Within the COMIQ training network the next generation of young scientists will be trained by providing education and training for 13 Early Stage Researchers (ERSs) in a 3 year PhD-program and for 1 Experienced Researcher (ER) in postdoctoral studies during 2 years. The fellows will be trained through a network-based, highly interdisciplinary training program comprising chemistry and physics, experiment and theory, complementary skills and technology, and following a training-through-research philosophy. The innovative scientific training program includes joint technological developments with private-sector partners which are experts in the innovative technologies required for the experiments. The ERSs are developing skills and expertise needed for a research career in the emerging scientific field and its technological spin-offs. Each of the fellows is enrolled in a challenging research project at a host institute, but with multiple secondments to collaborators, so they receive training in an academic and/or an industrial environment. The high quality of these projects is documented by the scientific and technological outcome achieved during the first two years of COMIQ. Highlights include the development of a digital ion trap and damped cosine trap ejection methodologies, development of high-voltage frequency generator, a new technique for all-electrical stabilization of semiconductor lasers without the need for an optical reference, building of a frequency stabilized laser source in the Mid-IR region, the ability to detect cold (BaRb)+ molecules produced in a reactive collision between two Rb atoms and a Ba+ ion. The fellows experience a network-wide training through schools, workshops, and meetings, which combined broaden the follows perspective, provide the possibility of fruitful exchange of ideas, and finally the acquisition of expertise in both experimental methods and theoretical concepts. An essential aspect for the career advancement of the fellows is their access to a wide range of state-of-the-art technological diversity of experimental methods: ion trapping, manipulation of cold atoms, laser techniques, precision chemical dynamics and quantum control of ultracold molecular ion reactions etc.

In the first funding period, two schools were organized which were not only attended by the COMIQ partners, but also by external scientists and students. The first school introduced the fellows to a series of scientific, practical and complementary skills e.g. ion trapping and cooling methods, molecular physics, laser techniques, good lab practice, and practical training in molecular dynamics. The second school organized introduced the fellows to quantum information, precision chemical dynamics and quantum control of ultracold molecular ion reactions, internal quantum-state preparation, Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs), generation and application of cold molecules and theory on ion-molecular reaction and electronic structure. These topics are increasingly important in todays advanced experiments and simulations. The fellows also received practical training in radiofrequency techniques and complementary training in presentation skills. The school further encompassed a public engagement workshop.

The research methodology and method is presented in four research packages entitled; Quantum state preparation, Precision measurements, Quantum controlled chemistry and Molecular quantum technology. The private sector partners actively participate in the network management and training program, and play an important role in each work packages. Network-wide meetings and conferences strengthen existing links between COMIQ partners and intensify the exchange between academia and the private sector. Results and benefits of the network-induces collaborations are shared and diffused within Europa by network events open to external researchers and by publications in high-profile high-impact peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the first period, 45 publications have been published or submitted in peer-review journals, and many more are in the making.

Several key aspects illustrated in figure 1, highlight the impact of COMIQ in a societal and economic matter. The COMIQ network educate young researchers at the highest level and promote their scientific careers for strengthen the European economy and the research community. The collaboration between academic experimental groups and industrial partners will result in new products for the European high-tech industry thus promoting Europe’s high-tech landscape and strengthen European leadership in the marked.

To summarize, the network composes of experts with different background and expertise which is the optimal composition for an interdisciplinary endeavor which lies at the border between physics, chemistry, engineering and numerics. The network will provide pioneer new approaches and knowledge in academia and industry for the study of cold molecular ions at the quantum limit for today and tomorrows researchers.
More information about COMIQ, contact information and logo (figure 2) can be found at


Bodil Mølgaard, (Financial Officer)
Tel.: +45 87152064


Life Sciences
Record Number: 188953 / Last updated on: 2016-09-19