Molecular Coherence and Transformation

In this activity, JILA-PFC investigators are exploring chemical reactions at the level of interactions between electrons and the coupling between electronic and nuclear motion. One goal is to understand and control energy flow in interactions of small three- and four-atom molecules. Another goal is to harness molecular coherence (a state in which the quantum mechanical waves of molecules have a fixed-phase relationship) to explore the process of molecular transformation. Simply put, JILA-PFC researchers want to fundamentally understand molecular interactions so they can teach molecules new tricks that will help open up new frontiers in physics research.

Current work in this activity includes (1) efforts to control molecular collisions and chemical reactions of ultracold molecules, (2) probes of the behaviors of the nucleus and electrons in molecules (including the redistribution of energy) during a chemical reaction, (3) the cooling and trapping of molecules found in nature to ultracold temperatures, where slow-moving molecules are easier to investigate, (4) studies of quantum chemistry at temperatures near absolute zero, and (5) the use of molecular ions in the search for an electron electric dipole moment, or eEDM. The eEDM is a measure of the amount of out-of-roundness of the electron. Its size (if it even exists) has important implications for our understanding of how the world works at the most fundamental levels.


  • Andreas Becker
  • David Nesbitt
  • Deborah Jin
  • Eric Cornell
  • Heather Lewandowski
  • Henry Kapteyn
  • J. Mathias Weber
  • John Bohn
  • Jun Ye
  • Margaret Murnane
  • Steven Cundiff
  • W. Carl Lineberger