Laser cooling of ions in a neutral plasma.


Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005, USA. [Email]


Laser cooling of a neutral plasma is a challenging task because of the high temperatures typically associated with the plasma state. By using an ultracold neutral plasma created by photoionization of an ultracold atomic gas, we avoid this obstacle and demonstrate laser cooling of ions in a neutral plasma. After 135 microseconds of cooling, we observed a reduction in ion temperature by up to a factor of four, with the temperature reaching as low as 50(4) millikelvin. This pushes laboratory studies of neutral plasmas deeper into the strongly coupled regime, beyond the limits of validity of current kinetic theories for calculating transport properties. The same optical forces also retard the plasma expansion, opening avenues for neutral-plasma confinement and manipulation.

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