Theses Doctoral

Laser cooling of BaH molecules, and new ideas for the detection of dark matter

McNally, Rees

The advent of laser cooling and optical manipulation for atomic samples revolutionized atomic physics in 1990’s, allowing the creation of new phases of matter, more accurate atomic clocks, and enabling leading candidates for the first functional quantum computer. This could not have been predicted at the time, and is a testament to the value of fundamental research for its own sake. These same laser cooling techniques are now being applied to simple molecular systems with the same revolutionary potential. In this thesis, I will present a range of experiments exploring these schemes in a new class of molecules, the diatomic alkaline earth hydrides. We present the creation and characterization of a bright beam of cold barium hydride molecules, high precision spectroscopy of these samples, as well as optical deflection and transverse cooling. This represents the first laser cooling of a Hydride molecule. This is a crucial step towards the creation of new cold molecular samples for a variety of scientific applications.

In the final chapter, I will change gears, and introduce new ideas for the detection of scalar field dark matter. While this variety of dark matter is typically searched for using atomic clocks, I will show that the same coupling also leads to anomalous acceleration of test masses. This acceleration would be detectable using both a network of precision acceleration sensors known as the IGETS network, and by the LIGO observatory. This new technique will compliment existing search strategies, and has higher sensitivity for a wide region of parameter space.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Zelevinsky, Tanya
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 25, 2021