The manipulation of atoms above a chip using magnetic fields produced by current carrying wires is a mature field of research. This field was inspired by the notion that miniaturization of magnetic field structures enables the creation of large field gradients, i.e., large forces and tight potentials for atoms. It also has been crucial that present-day microelectronics technology makes it possible to integrate multiple tools and devices onto a compact surface area. Such atom chips have been used to demonstrate rapid Bose-Einstein condensation and have found applications in matter-wave interferometry and in inertial and gravitational field sensing. Likewise, the engineering of miniaturized electric field structures holds great promise for the manipulation of polar molecules above a chip. The ability of a molecule to rotate and to vibrate allows for the coupling to photons over a wide range of frequencies. This might enable, for instance, to implement proposed schemes of quantum computation that use polar molecules as qubits. The use of miniaturized traps also brings quantum-degeneracy for samples of polar molecules closer. However, experimentally proven concepts to load and detect molecules on a chip are still in their infancy. In this project, we will develop and exploit experimental methods to load and detect polar molecules on a chip. Molecules are directly loaded from a supersonic beam into miniaturized electric field traps above the chip. For this, these traps originally move along with the molecular beam at a velocity of several hundred meters per second and are then brought to a complete standstill over a distance of only a few centimeters. After a certain holding time, e.g., after the experiments on the chip are over, the molecules are accelerated off the chip again for detection. This methodology is applicable to a wide variety of polar molecules, enabling the realization of a molecular laboratory on a chip.
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Funding SchemeERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant