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Quantum state tracking and control of a single molecular ion in a thermal environment



Yu Liu, Julian Schmidt, Zhimin Liu, David Leibrandt, Dietrich Leibfried, Chin-wen Chou


The evolution of molecular quantum states is central to many research areas, including chemical reaction dynamics, precision measurement, and molecule-based quantum technology. Details of the evolution is often obscured, however, when measurements are performed on an ensemble of molecules, or when the molecules are subjected to environmental perturbations. Here, we report real-time observations of quantum jumps between rotational states of a single molecule driven by thermal radiation, and present techniques to maintain the molecule in a chosen state over a timescale of tens of seconds. Molecular state detection is achieved non-destructively through quantum-logic spectroscopy, in which information on the state of the molecule is transferred to a co-trapped "logic" atomic ion for readout. Our approaches for state detection and manipulation are applicable to a wide range of molecular ion species, thereby facilitating their use in many fields of study including chemistry, molecular physics, and quantum science. The measured rotational transition rates show anisotropy in the background thermal radiation, which points to the possibility of using a single molecular ion as an in-situ probe for the strengths of ambient fields at the relevant transition frequencies.


quantum control, cold molecules, quantum science


Liu, Y. , Schmidt, J. , Liu, Z. , Leibrandt, D. , Leibfried, D. and Chou, C. (2024), Quantum state tracking and control of a single molecular ion in a thermal environment, Nature (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created June 7, 2024