Trapping molecular ions formed via photo-associative ionization of ultracold atoms
The formation of 40Ca2+ molecular ions is observed in a hybrid 40Ca magneto-optical and ion trap system. The molecular ion formation process is determined to be photo-associative ionization of ultracold 40Ca atoms. A lower bound for the two-body rate constant is found to be ≥ 2 ± 1 × 10−15 cm3 Hz. Ab initio molecular potential curves are calculated for the neutral Ca2 and ionic Ca2+ molecules and used in a model that identifies the photo-associative ionization pathway. As this technique does not require a separate photo-association laser, it could find use as a simple, robust method for producing ultracold molecular ions.