Long lifetimes and effective isolation of ions in optical and electrostatic traps

  • Nature Photonicsvolume 11pages704707 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41566-017-0030-2
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Long trapping times, as well as low heating and decoherence rates, essentially isolating individual particles from the environment, are crucial ingredients for controlling these particles on the quantum level1. Here, we demonstrate that optical trapping and isolation of ions can be performed on a level comparable to neutral atoms, boosting their lifetime by three orders of magnitude compared to previous work2,3, and measure an upper bound of the total heating rate. The achieved isolation from the environment opens a path to a novel regime of ultracold interactions of ions and atoms at previously inaccessible collision energies4,5,6 and may permit a novel class of experimental quantum simulations with ions and atoms in a variety of versatile optical trapping geometries7, for example, bichromatic traps or higher-dimensional optical lattices8,9.

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The authors thank J. Denter for technical support. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 648330). A.L., J.S., P.W. and M.D. acknowledge support from the DFG within the GRK 2079/1 programme. P.W. acknowledges support from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. L.K. acknowledges financial support from Marie Curie Actions.

Author information


  1. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Physikalisches Institut, Hermann-Herder-Straße 3, 79104, Freiburg, Germany

    • Alexander Lambrecht
    • , Julian Schmidt
    • , Pascal Weckesser
    • , Markus Debatin
    • , Leon Karpa
    •  & Tobias Schaetz
  2. Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, 79104, Freiburg, Germany

    • Leon Karpa


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T.S. conceived the experiment. A.L., J.S. and L.K. contributed equally to the design, construction, carrying out of the experiments, discussion of the results and analysis of the data. All authors contributed to discussing the results and writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leon Karpa.