Contact: Laura Ost
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Caption: JILA researchers developed a new magnetic trap and a new technique to achieve "evaporative cooling" of hydroxyl molecules (one hydrogen atom bonded to one oxygen atom). A microwave pulse at a specific frequency converts hot molecules inside the trap to a slightly different energy state. A small electric field is pulsed on briefly to destabilize and eject these converted molecules from the trap. As the microwave frequency is slowly altered, molecules distributed inside the trap (which has a varied magnetic field strength) are progressively converted and removed from the top of the trap, where molecules are hotter, to the bottom, where molecules are cooler.
Credit: Baxley and Ye Group/JILA
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Related news release: JILA physicists achieve elusive 'evaporative cooling' of molecules