Molecular gases, that are brought to a near standstill with kinetic energies only a few 100 nK above absolute temperature zero, open up far-reaching possibilities for quantum science, ranging from quantum simulation and quantum information to quantum-controlled chemistry and fundamental physics. However, even the simplest molecules, diatomic molecules, have until recently largely eluded complete quantum control because of their multitude of quantum degrees of freedom including rotation and vibration. In her research career, Silke Ospelkaus has succeeded in demonstrating the complete quantum control of diatomic molecular systems. She has produced so-called quantum gases of ground-state polar molecules and demonstrated quantum control of chemical reactions at ultracold temperatures using the simple laws of quantum mechanics. Recently, her work has focused on quantum control of molecular collisions to enable the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate of diatomic, polar molecules and to access the quantum world beyond diatomic molecules through controlled chemical reactions at ultracold temperatures.
Silke Ospelkaus is an experimental physicist at the Institute of Quantum Optics at Leibniz Universität Hannover. Her research is dedicated to the quantum world of ultracold molecular gases for applications in quantum simulation and fundamental physics. She studied physics at the University of Bonn and completed her PhD at the University of Hamburg. For her doctoral thesis, she received the dissertation prize of the AMOP section of the German Physical Society (2007). After a postdoctoral stay with a Feodor Lynen Fellowship at JILA and the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA in the group of Prof. D. Jin and Prof. J. Ye, she joined the department of Prof. I. Bloch at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching as Minerva group leader (2009). Since 2011, she has been a professor of experimental physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover. She has received an ERC Starting (2010) and Consolidator Grant (2022) and is spokesperson of the DFG Research Group 2247.