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Inelastic collisions of cold polar molecules in nonparallel electric and magnetic fields

TitleInelastic collisions of cold polar molecules in nonparallel electric and magnetic fields
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAbrahamsson, E, Tscherbul, TV, Krems, RV
Date PublishedJUL 28

The authors present a detailed study of low-temperature collisions between CaD molecules and He atoms in superimposed electric and magnetic fields with arbitrary orientations. Electric fields do not interact with the electron spin of the molecules directly but modify their rotational structure and, consequently, the spin-rotation interactions. The authors examine molecular Stark and Zeeman energy levels as functions of the angle between the fields and show that rotating fields may induce and shift avoided crossings between the Zeeman levels of the rotationally ground and rotationally excited states of the molecule. The dynamics of molecular collisions are extremely sensitive to external fields near these avoided crossings and it is shown that molecular collisions may be controlled by varying both the strength and the relative orientation of the fields. The effects observed in this study are due to interactions of the isolated molecules with external fields so the conclusions should be relevant for collisions of molecules with other atoms or collisions of molecules with each other. This study demonstrates that electric fields may be used to enhance or suppress spin-rotation interactions in molecules. The spin-rotation interactions induce nonadiabatic couplings between states of different total spins in systems of two open-shell species and it is suggested that electric fields might be used for controlling nonadiabatic spin transitions and spin-forbidden chemical reactions of cold molecules in a magnetic trap. (C) 2007 American Institute of Physics.