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Coherent Control of Atomic and Molecular Dynamics

At the heart of chemical physics is understanding the atomic and molecular dynamics involved in a chemical system or a physical process, a goal enhanced enormously by the application of lasers to this field.Over the past 15 years, laser control schemes have emerged as powerful methods to go the next logical step, namely to achieve the manipulation of the atomic and molecular processes.Such "active" quantum control schemes are distinguished either by attempting to impose adjustable phase differences on multiple competing photon-induced pathways, which can then interfere constructively or distructively for a desired outcome, or by attempting to "tailor" femtosecond laser pulses in order to drive molecular wavefunction to specific products.

The infrastructure of building a new ultrafast laser laboratory in our research group funded by the Canada Fundation for Innovation(CFI) has just been completed in March, 2004. This laboratory will allow us to enhance our innovative research in the field of quantum control of atomic and molecular processes.The project to be carried out is in close collaboration with Professor Moshe Shapiro at the University of British Columbia and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Two main themes of research are being planned: (1) Demonstration of coherent suppression of spontaneous emission.A successful demonstration of the theoretical prediction[1,2] that it is indeed possible to suppress spontaneous emission and other spontaneous decay processes, would constitute a major breakthrough in the Quantum Control field.We will first investigate the control of spontaneous emission using coherences of vibrational levels to explore the possibility of altering the non-exponential decay in sodium dimer prototypal system;(2) We intend to apply the methods of Coherent Control to other processes, e.g., the optical purification of mixtures of "chiral" molecules via the use of coherent femtosecond laser pulses.