Production of cold barium monohalide ions
De Palatis, Michael V.
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Ion traps are an incredibly versatile tool which have many applications throughout the physical sciences, including such diverse topics as mass spectrometry, precision frequency metrology, tests of fundamental physics, and quantum computing. In this thesis, experiments are presented which involve trapping and measuring properties of Th³⁺. Th³⁺ ions are of unique interest in part because they are a promising platform for studying an unusually low-lying nuclear transition in the 229Th nucleus which could eventually be used as an exceptional optical clock. Here, experiments to measure electronic lifetimes of Th³⁺ are described. A second experimental topic explores the production of sympathetically cooled molecular ions. The study of cold molecular ions has a number of applications, some of which include spectroscopy to aid the study of astrophysical objects, precision tests of quantum electrodynamics predictions, and the study of chemical reactions in the quantum regime. The experiments presented here involve the production of barium monohalide ions, BaX⁺ (X = F, Cl, Br). This type of molecular ion proves to be particularly promising for cooling to the rovibrational ground state. The method used for producing BaX⁺ ions involves reactions between cold, trapped Ba⁺ ions and neutral gas phase reactants at room temperature. The Ba⁺ ion reaction experiments presented in this thesis characterize these reactions for producing Coulomb crystals composed of laser cooled Ba⁺ ions and sympathetically cooled BaX⁺ ions.