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Sympathetic Cooling of Molecular Ions in Microstructured Ion Traps on Chips

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The ion trap

Capturing molecular ions is no easy task; quantum science would benefit from a device to trap ions and support related applications.

Industrial Technologies

Atoms or molecules are the building blocks of life, and related research can positively impact many practical applications. How molecular ions behave when cooled by a laser, for example, can yield important results in fields such as quantum mechanics, metrology, ultra-cold chemistry and mass spectrometry. The EU-funded 'Sympathetic cooling of molecular ions in microstructured ion traps on chips' (Moli microtrap) project is devising small, flexible molecular ion traps that can be used in precise experiments. This involves designing and building a completely different type of ion trap that is adapted for cooling these ions based on new theories and numerical simulations. Moli microtrap studied how electric fields can affect the trapping of ions, as well as the shape, structure and thermal properties of these ions under different conditions. Project scientists worked on designing, building and testing a prototype ion trap that is cost-effective and relatively easy to produce, focusing specifically on the development of surface-electrode ion traps. These traps charged particles efficiently, using different electric fields. The project team succeeded in building a microstructured prototype ion trap using laser-cutting technology, considered highly cost-effective and flexible. The designed prototype solved many challenges associated with the process, although there are still more to overcome before the device is perfected. Current observations and fine-tuning of this prototype will lead to a second-generation version. This may result in the first device ever of cooled ions in a surface electrode ion trap.

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