Controlling the hyperfine state of rovibronic ground-state polar molecules

Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Jan 22;104(3):030402. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.030402. Epub 2010 Jan 20.


We report the preparation of a rovibronic ground-state molecular quantum gas in a single hyperfine state and, in particular, the absolute lowest quantum state. This addresses the last internal degree of freedom remaining after the recent production of a near quantum degenerate gas of molecules in their rovibronic ground state, and provides a crucial step towards full control over molecular quantum gases. We demonstrate a scheme that is general for bialkali polar molecules and allows the preparation of molecules in a single hyperfine state or in an arbitrary coherent superposition of hyperfine states. The scheme relies on electric-dipole, two-photon microwave transitions through rotationally excited states and makes use of electric nuclear quadrupole interactions to transfer molecular population between different hyperfine states.