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A molecular synchrotron

Heiner, C.E.; Carty, D.; Meijer, G.; Bethlem, H.L.


C.E. Heiner

G. Meijer

H.L. Bethlem


Many of the tools for manipulating the motion of neutral atoms and molecules take their inspiration from techniques developed for charged particles. Traps for atoms—akin to the Paul trap for ions1—have paved the way for many exciting experiments, ranging from ultra-precise clocks2 to creating quantum degenerate matter3, 4. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to developing a neutral particle analogue of a synchrotron—arguably, the most celebrated tool of the charged-particle physicist5, 6. So far, the few experiments dealing with ring structures for neutral particles have used cylindrically symmetric designs7, 8, 9; in these rings, no force is applied to the particles along the longitudinal direction and the stored particles are free to fill the entire ring. Here, we demonstrate a synchrotron for neutral polar molecules. A packet of ammonia molecules is accelerated, decelerated and focused along the longitudinal direction ('bunched') using the fringe fields between the two halves of a segmented hexapole ring. The stored bunch of cold molecules (T=0.5 mK) is confined to a 3 mm packet even after a flight distance of over 30 m (40 round trips). Furthermore, we show the injection of multiple packets into the ring.


Heiner, C., Carty, D., Meijer, G., & Bethlem, H. (2007). A molecular synchrotron. Nature Physics, 3(2), 115-118.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2007
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2008
Journal Nature Physics
Print ISSN 1745-2473
Electronic ISSN 1745-2481
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 115-118