Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Seeing the Quantum in Chemistry: JILA Scientists Control Chemical Reactions of Ultracold Molecules

One of the first-ever images of a molecular gas in which each molecule is in its lowest possible energy state. The gas has just been released from a trap created by lasers. The molecules are near absolute zero, a temperature at which quantum properties reign. The image – made by detecting the absorption of laser light by the molecules -- reveals their spatial distribution, with density indicated by peak height and false color. The fact that such an image can be created indicates the molecular quantum gas is dense enough to enable scientists to observe novel interactions among the molecules. Credit: D. Wang/JILA
One of the first-ever images of a molecular gas in which each molecule is in its lowest possible energy state. The gas has just been released from a trap created by lasers. The molecules are near absolute zero, a temperature at which quantum properties reign. The image – made by detecting the absorption of laser light by the molecules -- reveals their spatial distribution, with density indicated by peak height and false color. The fact that such an image can be created indicates the molecular quantum gas is dense enough to enable scientists to observe novel interactions among the molecules. Credit: D. Wang/JILA

Abstract:
Physicists at JILA have for the first time observed chemical reactions near absolute zero, demonstrating that chemistry is possible at ultralow temperatures and that reaction rates can be controlled using quantum mechanics, the peculiar rules of submicroscopic physics.

Seeing the Quantum in Chemistry: JILA Scientists Control Chemical Reactions of Ultracold Molecules

Gaithersburg, MD | Posted on February 11th, 2010

The new results and techniques, described in the Feb. 12 issue of Science,* will help scientists understand previously unknown aspects of how molecules interact, a key to advancing biology, creating new materials, producing energy and other research areas. The new JILA work also will aid studies of quantum gases (in which particles behave like waves) and exotic physics spanning the quantum and macroscopic worlds. It may provide practical tools for "designer chemistry" and other applications such as precision measurements and quantum computing.

JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder. A NIST theorist at the Joint Quantum Institute, a collaborative venture of NIST and the University of Maryland, also contributed to the research.

"It's perfectly reasonable to expect that when you go to the ultracold regime there would be no chemistry to speak of," says NIST physicist Deborah Jin, leader of one JILA group involved in the experiments. "This paper says no, there's a lot of chemistry going on."

"We are observing a new fundamental aspect of chemistry - it gives us a new ‘knob' to understand and control reactions," adds NIST physicist Jun Ye, leader of the second JILA group involved in the research.

The Science paper is a follow-up to the same research team's 2008 report of the first high-density gas of stable, strongly interacting ultracold molecules, each consisting of two different atoms bonded together (see www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/ultracold_polar_molecules.html).
Ultracold molecules are a hot research area because they may offer more diverse insights and applications than ultracold atoms, which scientists have deftly manipulated for more than 20 years.

Scientists have long known how to control the internal states of molecules, such as their rotational and vibrational energy levels. In addition, the field of quantum chemistry has existed for decades to study the effects of the quantum behavior of electrons and nuclei—constituents of molecules. But until now scientists have been unable to observe direct consequences of quantum mechanical motions of whole molecules on the chemical reaction process. Creating simple molecules and chilling them almost to a standstill makes this possible by presenting a simpler and more placid environment that can reveal subtle, previously unobserved chemical phenomena.

By precisely controlling the ultracold molecules' internal states—electronic energy levels, vibrations, rotations and nuclear spin (or angular momentum)—while also controlling the molecular motions at the quantum level, JILA scientists can study how the molecules scatter or interact with each other quantum mechanically. They were able to observe how the quantum effects of the molecule as a whole dictate reactivity. This new window into molecular behavior has allowed the observation of long-range interactions in which quantum mechanics determines whether two molecules should come together to react or stay apart. Thus the JILA work pushes the field in new directions and expands the standard conception of chemistry.

The JILA quantum chemistry experiments were performed with a gas containing up to 1 trillion molecules per cubic centimeter at temperatures of a few hundred billionths of a Kelvin (nanokelvins) above absolute zero (minus 273 degrees Celsius or minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit). Each molecule consists of one potassium atom and one rubidium atom. The molecules have a negative electric charge on the potassium side and a positive charge on the rubidium side, so they can be controlled with electric fields.

By measuring how many molecules are lost over time from a gas confined inside a laser-based optical trap, at different temperatures and under various other conditions, the JILA team found evidence of heat-producing chemical reactions in which the molecules must have exchanged atoms, broken chemical bonds, and forged new bonds. Theoretical calculations of long-range quantum effects agree with the experimental observations.

In conventional chemistry at room temperature, molecules may collide and react to form different compounds, releasing heat. In JILA's ultracold experiments, quantum mechanics reigns and the molecules spread out as ethereal rippling waves instead of acting as barbell-like solid particles. They do not collide in the conventional sense. Rather, as their quantum mechanical wave properties overlap, the molecules sense each other from as much as 100 times farther apart than would be expected under ordinary conditions. At this distance the molecules either scatter from one another or, if quantum conditions are right, swap atoms. Scientists expect to be able to control long-range interactions by creating molecules with specific internal states and "tuning" their reaction energies with electric and magnetic fields.

The JILA team produced a highly dense molecular gas and found that, although molecules move slowly at ultralow temperatures, reactions can occur very quickly. However, reactions can be suppressed using quantum mechanics. For instance, a cloud of molecules in the lowest-energy electronic, vibrational and rotational states reacts differently if the nuclear spins of some molecules are flipped. If a cloud of molecules is divided 50/50 into two different nuclear spin states, reactions proceed 10 to 100 times faster than if all molecules possess the same spin state. Thus, by purifying the gas (by preparing all molecules in the same spin state), scientists can deliberately suppress reactions.

The JILA experimental team attributes these results to the fact the molecules are fermions, one of two types of quantum particles found in nature. (Bosons are the second type.) Two identical fermions cannot be in the same place at the same time. This quantum behavior of fermions manifests as a suppression of the chemical reaction rate in the ultralow temperature gas. That is, molecules with identical nuclear spins are less likely to approach each other and react than are particles with opposite spins.

The JILA research is supported by NIST, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

* S. Ospelkaus, K.K. Ni, D. Wang, M.H.G. de Miranda, B. Neyenhuis, G. Quéméner, P.S. Julienne, J.L. Bohn, D.S. Jin, and J. Ye. 2010. Quantum-State Controlled Chemical Reactions of Ultracold KRb Molecules. Science. Feb. 12.

####

About NIST
From automated teller machines and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Laura Ost
(303) 497-4880

University of Colorado Contact:
Peter Caughey
(303) 492-4007

Copyright © NIST

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Chemistry

Two Scientists Receive Grants to Develop New Materials: Chad Mirkin and Monica Olvera de la Cruz recognized by Sherman Fairchild Foundation August 16th, 2017

2-faced 2-D material is a first at Rice: Rice University materials scientists create flat sandwich of sulfur, molybdenum and selenium August 14th, 2017

Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers August 3rd, 2017

Strem Chemicals Surpasses ChemStewards® Requirements: Strem Qualifies for SOCMA’s “Excellence” Ranking August 3rd, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

2-faced 2-D material is a first at Rice: Rice University materials scientists create flat sandwich of sulfur, molybdenum and selenium August 14th, 2017

Possible Futures

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Discoveries

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Announcements

Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology: Physicists demonstrate how heating up a quantum system can be used as a universal probe for exotic states of matter August 22nd, 2017

A Tougher Tooth: A new dental restoration composite developed by UCSB scientists proves more durable than the conventional material August 22nd, 2017

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition: Nagoya University-led team of physicists use a synchrotron radiation X-ray source to probe a so-called 'structure-less' transition and develop a new understanding of molecular conductors August 21st, 2017

Tokai University research: Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging August 21st, 2017

Alliances/Trade associations/Partnerships/Distributorships

Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology announces a new partner in Korea August 15th, 2017

Moving at the Speed of Light: University of Arizona selected for high-impact, industrial demonstration of new integrated photonic cryogenic datalink for focal plane arrays: Program is major milestone for AIM Photonics August 10th, 2017

Technology Companies Join Forces for TEM Imaging and Analysis August 3rd, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and VeriSilicon To Enable Single-Chip Solution for Next-Gen IoT Networks: Integrated solution leverages GF’s 22FDX® technology to decrease power, area, and cost for NB-IoT and LTE-M applications July 14th, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research: Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project August 10th, 2017

Nanocrystalline LEDs: Red, green, yellow, blue ... August 7th, 2017

Scientists discover new magnet with nearly massless charge carriers July 29th, 2017

Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing: New approach yields long-lasting configurations that could provide long-sought “qubit” material July 27th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project