Colloquium on May 29th, 2006

Pierre Meystre
The University of Arizona

Nonlinear Optics of Atoms and Molecules

The availability of ultracold atoms and molecules, with temperatures in the nanokelvin range, has opened up a new frontier in atomic and molecular science where quantum mechanical de Broglie waves are characterized by length scales of the order of microns instead of the subnanometer scales familiar at room temperature. That is a regime where quantum mechanics becomes completely dominant in characterizing the motion of the atoms and molecules, and where it is possible to demonstrate many of the nonlinear effects familiar from conventional optics, but with particles that possess a rich internal structure. The talk will give a tutorial introduction to some of these effects, discuss a few recent developments in the nonlinear optics of ultracold molecular dimers, and conclude by speculating on new directions in fundamental and applied science that may be expected from these developments.