The role of molecular spectroscopy in physics has evolved over the years. It was traditionally used to study molecular structure and its underlying quantum mechanics. Later, it led to various applications, including the first “atomic clock” that was actually based on molecular vibrations. More recent advances in techniques for quantum manipulation of molecules bring new directions including the use of molecules to search for new physics and harness molecular resources for quantum engineering.
My group develops new techniques to bring molecules to a standstill and use them as quantum building blocks to study how simple rules give rise to complexity. I will present our recent experimental work on building single gas-phase ultracold molecules. This work allows us to go beyond the usual paradigm of chemical reactions that proceed via stochastic encounters between reactants, to a single, controlled reaction of exactly two atoms . We foresee single molecules as valuable resources for quantum simulation and quantum computation  due to their rich internal degrees of freedom and strong dipolar interactions. I will also touch on how ultracold molecules (< 1 μK) provide a rich playground to study chemical reactions where quantum mechanics plays an important role.
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