Project title: Reconfigurable arrays of polar molecules for quantum simulation

Supervisors: Mike Tarbutt, Ben Sauer and Simon Cornish

Project description:
Quantum simulators are alternatives to quantum computers that have the potential to provide answers to many classically intractable problems in fields such as many-body physics and quantum chemistry [1]. It has been shown that one possible platform for quantum simulation is through the strong and long-range dipole-dipole interactions between ultracold polar molecules [2]. With recent advances in the laser cooling and quantum state control of such molecules [3,4], the construction of a polar molecule-based quantum simulator is now experimentally realisable [5]. Our aim is to develop a reconfigurable array of ultracold CaF molecules in optical tweezer traps - tightly confined optical dipole traps which can be engineered to have an occupancy of only 0 or 1 molecule.

A key part of the construction of a molecular quantum simulator is the ability to initialise the molecules in an array with a particular geometry. To achieve this, we will generate our tweezer traps using an acousto-optic deflector, the control system for which will be developed in collaboration with the Cornish group at the University of Durham. The system to generate user-defined arrangements of traps will then be deployed on an experiment at Imperial College London that utilises directly laser cooled CaF and also on an experiment at the University of Durham that will create ultracold RbCs molecules in situ through magnetoassociation [6]. The two experiments will then work collaboratively to test and execute quantum simulation protocols.

[1] I. Buluta & F. Nori, Science 326, 108-111 (2009)
[2] A. Micheli, G. K. Brennen & P. Zoller, Nat. Phys. 2, 341-347 (2006)
[3] L. Caldwell et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 123, 033202 (2019)
[4] H. J. Williams et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 163201 (2018)
[5] J. A. Blackmore et al., Quantum Sci. Technol. 4, 014010 (2019)
[6] P. K. Molony et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 255301 (2014)