Diffusion, thermalization and optical pumping of YbF molecules in a cold buffer gas cell

Physical Review A (Impact Factor: 2.81). 09/2010; 83(2). DOI: 10.1103/PHYSREVA.83.023418
Source: arXiv


We produce YbF molecules with a density of 10^18 m^-3 using laser ablation
inside a cryogenically-cooled cell filled with a helium buffer gas. Using
absorption imaging and absorption spectroscopy we study the formation,
diffusion, thermalization and optical pumping of the molecules. The absorption
images show an initial rapid expansion of molecules away from the ablation
target followed by a much slower diffusion to the cell walls. We study how the
time constant for diffusion depends on the helium density and temperature, and
obtain values for the YbF-He diffusion cross-section at two different
temperatures. We measure the translational and rotational temperatures of the
molecules as a function of time since formation, obtain the characteristic time
constant for the molecules to thermalize with the cell walls, and elucidate the
process responsible for limiting this thermalization rate. Finally, we make a
detailed study of how the absorption of the probe laser saturates as its
intensity increases, showing that the saturation intensity is proportional to
the helium density. We use this to estimate collision rates and the density of
molecules in the cell.

Download full-text


Available from: Benjamin E. Sauer, Jan 29, 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We present a summary of the techniques used to test time reversal symmetry by measuring the permanent electric dipole moment of the YbF molecule. The results of a recent measurement (Hudson et al., Nature 473:493, 2011) are reported. We review some systematic effects which might mimic time reversal violation and describe how they are overcome. We then discuss improvements to the sensitivity of the apparatus, including both short term technical enhancements as well as a longer term goal to use laser cooled YbF in the experiment.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Hyperfine Interactions
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We discuss an experiment underway at Imperial College London to measure the permanent electric dipole moment (EDM) of the electron using a molecular beam of YbF. We describe the measurement method, which uses a combination of laser and radiofrequency resonance techniques to detect the spin precession of the YbF molecule in a strong electric field. We pay particular attention to the analysis scheme and explore some of the possible systematic effects which might mimic the EDM signal. Finally, we describe technical improvements which should increase the sensitivity by more than an order of magnitude over the current experimental limit.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Physics Procedia
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We present an ab initio study of cold (4)He + ThO((1)Σ(+)) collisions based on an accurate potential energy surface (PES) evaluated by the coupled cluster method with single, double, and noniterative triple excitations using an extended basis set augmented by bond functions. Variational calculations of rovibrational energy levels show that the (4)He-ThO van der Waals complex has a binding energy of 10.9 cm(-1) in its ground J = 0 rotational state. The calculated energy levels are used to obtain the temperature dependence of the chemical equilibrium constant for the formation of the He-ThO complex. We find that complex formation is thermodynamically favored at temperatures below 1 K and predict the maximum abundance of free ground-state ThO(v = 0, j = 0) molecules between 2 and 3 K. The calculated cross sections for momentum transfer in elastic He + ThO collisions display a rich resonance structure below 5 cm(-1) and decline monotonically above this collision energy. The cross sections for rotational relaxation accompanied by momentum transfer decline abruptly to zero at low collision energies (<0.1 cm(-1)). We find that Stark relaxation in He + ThO collisions can be enhanced by applying an external dc electric field of less than 100 kV∕cm. Finally, we present calculations of thermally averaged diffusion cross sections for ThO in He gas, and find these to be insensitive to small variations of the PES at temperatures above 1 K.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2011 · The Journal of Chemical Physics
Show more