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Light forces in ultracold photoassociation

TitleLight forces in ultracold photoassociation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsE. Gomez, A. Black, L. D. Turner, E. Tiesinga, and P. D. Lett
JournalPhys. Rev. A
Date Publishedjan
Keywords2007, Multiple Fellows

We study the time-resolved photoassociation of ultracold sodium in an optical dipole trap. The photoassociation laser excites pairs of atoms to molecular states of large total angular momentum at high intensities (above 20 kW/cm\$\^{}\{2\}\$). Such transitions are generally suppressed at ultracold temperatures by the centrifugal barriers for high partial waves. Time-resolved ionization measurements reveal that the atoms are accelerated by the dipole potential of the photoassociation beam. We change the collision energy by varying the potential depth, and observe a strong variation of the photoassociation rate. These results demonstrate the important role of light forces in cw photoassociation at high intensities.