"The research was very challenging but also a great opportunity as I could work with scientists from various fields and from different countries."
Using the wavepacket technique, the research team from the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy have successfully controlled the rotation and vibration of an acetylene molecule and single helium atom complex without destroying it. The same method could theoretically be applied to other clusters.
Dr Klaus von Haeften, Reader in Nanoscience at the University of Leicester, who supervised the research, said: "This result became possible through the collaboration of an international team of researchers from six different European institutions. The team comprised experts on the generation of rotational wavepackets using lasers, the formation of weakly-bound molecular clusters and theorists to assist the experimentalist in the interpretation of the data.
"This research will enhance our fundamental knowledge of the nanoscale system and can now take many different directions in the fields of physics and chemistry. Ultimately, the knowledge gained through our work will enable the design of novel materials based on nanoscale building blocks. These materials may show entirely new physical properties or catalyse chemical reactions that were otherwise impossible.
"This knowledge is important in enhancing our fundamental understanding of physical principles but also for applications of nanostructures in chemistry."
The work paves the way for future studies of nanoscale systems, allowing for a better understanding of how the properties of materials evolve with size and complexity, such as with an increasing number of atoms added to a cluster.
The study, entitled 'Probing the structure and dynamics of molecular complexes using rotational wavepackets', was published in the academic journal Physical Review Letters on Friday 25 July.
|Contact: Gediminas Galinis|
University of Leicester