Photoassociation with short laser pulses has been proposed as a technique to create ultracold ground state molecules. A broad-band excitation seems the natural choice to drive the series of excitation and deexcitation steps required to form a molecule in its vibronic ground state from two scattering atoms. First attempts at femtosecond photoassociation were, however, hampered by the requirement to eliminate the atomic excitation leading to trap depletion. On the other hand, molecular levels very close to the atomic transition are to be excited. The broad bandwidth of a femtosecond laser then appears to be rather an obstacle. To overcome the ostensible conflict of driving a narrow transition by a broad-band laser, we suggest a two-photon photoassociation scheme. In the weak-field regime, a spectral phase pattern can be employed to eliminate the atomic line. When the excitation is carried out by more than one photon, different pathways in the field can be interfered constructively or destructively. In the strong-field regime, a temporal phase can be applied to control dynamic Stark shifts. The atomic transition is suppressed by choosing a phase which keeps the levels out of resonance. We derive analytical solutions for atomic two-photon dark states in both the weak-field and strong-field regime. Two-photon excitation may thus pave the way toward coherent control of photoassociation. Ultimately, the success of such a scheme will depend on the details of the excited electronic states and transition dipole moments. We explore the possibility of two-photon femtosecond photoassociation for alkali and alkaline-earth metal dimers and present a detailed study for the example of calcium.
You have access to this article
Please wait while we load your content...
Something went wrong. Try again?