Ultracold Quantum Chemistry

Transferring the high degree of control achieved for atomic systems to more complex molecular systems offers many new and exciting research perspectives ranging from precision experiments to the control of chemical reactions. Molecular systems exhibit many degrees of freedom associated with rotation and vibration. These degrees of freedom have long been considered a nuisance, increasing the complexity of the system to a level were sufficient control of the systems is no longer possible. However, the recent advances in our ability to cool and trap molecules and prepare their internal state have changed that view and have led to the insight that the complexity of molecules is more an advantage that needs to be exploited. In fact, molecules are ideal test beds for fundamental theories regarding, e.g., the masses of nuclear particles like proton and neutron, the dipole moment of fundamental particles like electrons, or effects of chirality. Moreover, the permanent dipole moment of molecules provides a unique handle to steer chemical reactions and exploit collision resonances in an energy regime where conventional chemistry has never been before. Ultimately, cooling the internal and external degrees of freedom of dense molecular samples offers new avenues for studying the collective and possibly cooperative behavior of complex systems with long-range interactions in a regime ruled by quantum physics.

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