Product-state control of ultracold reactions via conserved nuclear spins
Published 2020-05-21Version 1
Quantum control of reactive systems has enabled microscopic probes of underlying interaction potentials, the opening of novel reaction pathways, and the alteration of reaction rates using quantum statistics. However, extending such control to the quantum states of reaction outcomes remains challenging. In this work, we realize this goal through the nuclear spin degree of freedom, a result which relies on the conservation of nuclear spins throughout the reaction. Using resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization spectroscopy to investigate the products formed in bimolecular reactions between ultracold KRb molecules, we find that the system retains a near-perfect memory of the reactants nuclear spins, manifested as a strong parity preference for the rotational states of the products. We leverage this effect to alter the occupation of these product states by changing the superposition of initial nuclear spin states with an external magnetic field. The techniques demonstrated here open up the possibility to study ultracold reaction dynamics at the state-to-state level as well as quantum entanglement between reaction products.