Columbia University Columbia University
Group photo
Tanya Zelevinsky, Bart McGuyer, Rees McNally, Chih-Hsi Lee, Leila Abbih, Albert Law, Mickey McDonald, Geoff Iwata
Not pictured: Konrad Wenz
Photodissociated ultracold diatomic molecules
Ultracold molecule machine
Ultracold molecule experiment
Laser-cooled atoms behind window
Laser-cooled atom cloud in a vacuum chamber
Laser cooling light
Blue light for atom cooling and trapping
Trap trace analysis system
Trace analysis setup for noble-gas dark matter detectors
Laser ablation
Laser ablation of an ytterbium target
Ultracold atom trap

Matter near the absolute zero has fascinating properties. Ultracold atoms and molecules can be confined in tiny regions of space and studied with great precision. At ZLab, we use laser light to create ultracold diatomic molecules of strontium. These molecules form a unique system that allows us to measure subtle yet important properties of basic molecular physics. On a more fundamental level, they will provide an ensemble of tiny molecular clocks, where the molecule vibration determines the ticking rate. This type of quantum clock can help us test Einstein's equivalence principle in our universe and Newton's gravitational force at the nanometer scale.

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Atom trap trace analysis system

By attaining control over many properties of light and matter, we can design systems that reach new capabilities, both in fundamental and applied sciences. In collaboration with the Laboratory for Astrophysics, we built an apparatus to quantify a tiny contamination of a noble-gas detector used in Dark Matter searches. Together with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, we use microcavities to stabilize lasers for next-generation portable atomic clocks.

Optics         Atom trace analysis