Trapping Molecules on a Chip

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Magnetic trapping of atoms on chips has recently become straightforward, but analogous trapping of molecules has proved to be challenging. We demonstrated trapping of carbon monoxide molecules above a chip using direct loading from a supersonic beam. Upon arrival above the chip, the molecules are confined in tubular electric field traps ˜20 micrometers in diameter, centered 25 micrometers above the chip, that move with the molecular beam at a velocity of several hundred meters per second. An array of these miniaturized moving traps is brought to a standstill over a distance of only a few centimeters. After a certain holding time, the molecules are accelerated off the chip again for detection. This loading and detection methodology is applicable to a wide variety of polar molecules, enabling the creation of a gas-phase molecular laboratory on a chip.

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