Cold samples of oxygen molecules in supersonic beams have been decelerated from initial velocities of 390 and 450 m s−1 to final velocities in the range between 150 and 280 m s−1 using a 90-stage Zeeman decelerator. (2 + 1) resonance-enhanced-multiphoton-ionization (REMPI) spectra of the 3sσ g 3Π g (C) two-photon transition of O2 have been recorded to characterize the state selectivity of the deceleration process. The decelerated molecular sample was found to consist exclusively of molecules in the J ′′ = 2 spin–rotational component of the X ground state of O2. Measurements of the REMPI spectra using linearly polarized laser radiation with polarization vector parallel to the decelerator axis, and thus to the magnetic-field vector of the deceleration solenoids, further showed that only the magnetic sublevel of the N′′ = 1, J ′′ = 2 spin–rotational level is populated in the decelerated sample, which therefore is characterized by a fully oriented total-angular-momentum vector. By maintaining a weak quantization magnetic field beyond the decelerator, the polarization of the sample could be maintained over the 5 cm distance separating the last deceleration solenoid and the detection region.

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