Trapping polar molecules in an ac trap

H.L. Bethlem, J. van Veldhoven, M. Schnell, G. Meijer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Polar molecules in high-field seeking states cannot be trapped in static traps as Maxwell's equations do not allow a maximum of the electric field in free space. It is possible to generate an electric field that has a saddle point by superposing an inhomogeneous electric field to an homogeneous electric field. In such a field, molecules are focused along one direction, while being defocused along the other. By reversing the direction of the inhomogeneous electric field the focusing and defocusing directions are reversed. When the fields are being switched back and forth at the appropriate rate, this leads to a net focusing force in all directions. We describe possible electrode geometries for creating the desired fields and discuss their merits. Trapping of ND315 ammonia molecules in a cylindrically symmetric ac trap is demonstrated. We present measurements of the spatial distribution of the trapped cloud as a function of the settings of the trap and compare these to both a simple model assuming a linear force and to full three-dimensional simulations of the experiment. With the optimal settings, molecules within a phase-space volume of 270 mm3 (m/s) 3 remain trapped. This corresponds to a trap depth of about 5 mK and a trap volume of about 20 mm3. © 2006 The American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review A. Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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