Ultracold field-linked tetratomic molecules


Ultracold polyatomic molecules offer opportunities1 in cold chemistry2,3, precision measurements4 and quantum information processing5,6, because of their rich internal structure. However, their increased complexity compared with diatomic molecules presents a challenge in using conventional cooling techniques. Here we demonstrate an approach to create weakly bound ultracold polyatomic molecules by electroassociation7 (F.D. et al., manuscript in preparation) in a degenerate Fermi gas of microwave-dressed polar molecules through a field-linked resonance8–11. Starting from ground-state NaK molecules, we create around 1.1 × 103 weakly bound tetratomic (NaK)2 molecules, with a phase space density of 0.040(3) at a temperature of 134(3) nK, more than 3,000 times colder than previously realized tetratomic molecules12. We observe a maximum tetramer lifetime of 8(2) ms in free space without a notable change in the presence of an optical dipole trap, indicating that these tetramers are collisionally stable. Moreover, we directly image the dissociated tetramers through microwave-field modulation to probe the anisotropy of their wavefunction in momentum space. Our result demonstrates a universal tool for assembling weakly bound ultracold polyatomic molecules from smaller polar molecules, which is a crucial step towards Bose–Einstein condensation of polyatomic molecules and towards a new crossover from a dipolar Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer superfluid13–15 to a Bose–Einstein condensation of tetramers. Moreover, the long-lived field-linked state provides an ideal starting point for deterministic optical transfer to deeply bound tetramer states16–18.