Optical Tweezers Give Harvard Scientists the Control to Capture Ultracold Molecules

October 2, 2019
Optical Tweezers

For most people, tweezers are a thing you’d find in a medicine cabinet or beauty salon, useful for getting rid of ingrown hairs or sculpting eyebrows.

Those designed by John Doyle and Kang-Kuen Ni have more exotic applications.

Using precisely focused lasers that act as “optical tweezers,” the pair have been able to capture and control individual, ultracold molecules — the eventual building-blocks of a quantum computer — and study the collisions between molecules in more detail than ever before. The work is described in a paperpublished in Science on Sept. 13.

“We’re interested in doing two things,” said Doyle, the Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics and co-director of the Quantum Science and Engineering Initiative. “One is building up complex quantum systems, which are interesting because it turns out that if you can put together certain kinds of quantum systems they can solve problems that can’t be solved using a classical computer, including understanding advanced materials and perhaps designing new materials, or even looking at problems we haven’t thought of yet, because we haven’t had the tools...

Continue reading "Tine Tweezers" by Peter Reuell, The Harvard Gazette, October 2, 2019. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/10/harvard-scientists-use-optical-tweezers-to-capture-ultracold-molecules/