Cold atoms and molecules
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The ability to cool and trap atoms has revolutionized atomic and ultra-cold physics. Molecular physics is currently undergoing a similar transformation. This thesis aims to research a general cooling method that will be applicable to wide range of molecular and atomic species and other particles. We studied the dynamics of molecules in optical fields, focusing in particular on exploring the molecular self-organisation phenomena in optical cavities to cool molecular ensembles to sub-mK temperatures. Firstly, the general model of cavity cooling from atoms to molecules and the dynamics of a particle in a single cavity mode were discussed. We extended the existing cooling scheme for two-level atoms to an ensemble of multi-level molecules. Then we studied the spatial dynamics of molecules in the new parameter conditions, focusing in particular on exploring the molecular self-organisation phenomena in optical cavities to cool molecular ensembles to sub-mK temperatures. The scheme complements well with our present experimental work on the deceleration and focusing of cold molecules and can extend our present capability to simultaneously cool and trap a large cold molecular ensemble. For simulation of a large ensemble of molecules, we proposed a new statistical model based on the Boltzmann equation beside the traditional discrete model and studied two solution methods. The comparison of the theory and numerical simulations between discrete model and statistical model showed a good agreement, which validated this new model. We then explored the scaling laws with a view to the self-organization and cooling of a large ensemble of species. We studied the cooling of a CN molecular cloud of the density 1013/cm3, with an initial temperature at 10 mK in an optical cavity. We found that more than a third of the molecules are stably trapped by the intracavity field and the final temperature is below 1mK. We discussed the scaling laws in the case when a large ensemble of species is involved. Finally we argue that cavity cooling using a far off-resonant laser source can be a general cooling method that is applicable to any particles and studied the probability and conditions.