Dec 18, 2023

Study: Physicists create giant trilobite Rydberg molecules

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics

Kaiserslautern physicists in the team of Professor Dr. Herwig Ott have succeeded for the first time in directly observing pure trilobite Rydberg molecules. Particularly interesting is that these molecules have a very peculiar shape, which is reminiscent of trilobite fossils. They also have the largest electric dipole moments of any molecule known so far.

The researchers used a dedicated apparatus that is capable of preparing these fragile at ultralow temperatures. The results reveal their chemical binding mechanisms, which are distinct from all other chemical bonds. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

For their experiment, the physicists used a cloud of rubidium that was cooled down in an to about 100 microkelvin—0.0001 degrees above absolute zero. Subsequently, they excited some of these atoms into a so-called Rydberg state using lasers. “In this process, the outermost electron in each case is brought into far-away orbits around the atomic body,” explains Professor Herwig Ott, who researches ultracold quantum gases and quantum atom optics at University of Kaiserslautern-Landau.

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