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January 25th, 2006
Riding the dimer
In work published in the current issue of Science, a team of scientists from Sandia National Laboratories, the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada, and elsewhere accomplished this trick scientifically by, in effect, standing on pair after pair of joined nitric oxide molecules and watching as each pair split after being excited by an ultrashort laser pulse.
They not only measured the direction of each separating NO molecule but also the direction and energy of an electron spat out as each breakup occurred. The electron reveals the quantum energy levels of the dimer as it separates — a key factor in analyzing the process.
Sandia National Laboratories
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