Schedule Mar 11, 2013
Inelastic Collisions Between a Single Ion and Ultracold Neutral Atoms
Michael Köhl (Univ. Cambridge)

Single particles immersed in a clean and well-controlled environment are a paradigm for studying inelastic collisions and chemical reactions. We report on the experimental tuning of the exchange reaction rates of a single trapped ion with ultracold neutral atoms by exerting control over both their quantum states. We observe the influence of the hyperfine interaction on chemical reaction rates and branching ratios, and monitor the kinematics of the reaction products. Moreover, we study the dynamics of a spin-qubit encoded in a single trapped ion into a spin-polarized neutral atom environment, which possesses both continuous (motional) and discrete (spin) degrees of freedom. We observe the spin dynamics of the qubit and measure the decoherence times (T1 and T2), which are determined by the spin-exchange interaction as well as by an unexpectedly strong spin-nonconserving coupling mechanism.

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