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High-Purity Solid Parahydrogen
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Alkali atoms trapped in solid hydrogen matrices have demonstrated ultralong electron spin coherence times, and are promising as quantum sensors. Their spin coherence is limited by magnetic noise from naturally-occurring orthohydrogen molecules in the parahydrogen matrix. In the gas phase, the orthohydrogen component of hydrogen can be converted to parahydrogen by flowing it over a catalyst held at cryogenic temperatures, with lower temperatures giving a lower orthohydrogen fraction. In this work, we use a single cryostat to reduce the orthohydrogen fraction of hydrogen gas and grow a solid matrix from the resulting high-purity parahydrogen. We demonstrate the operation of the catalyst down to a temperature of 8 K, and we spectroscopically verify that orthohydrogen impurities in the resulting solid are at a level < 10−6. We also find that, at sufficiently low temperatures, the cryogenic catalyst provides isotopic purification, reducing the HD fraction.