A group of American physicists for the first time joined two separate atoms in the molecule in a fully controlled reaction, carried out with a laser.
To make substances join together in a chemical reaction, reagents are mixed; individual atoms and molecules, bonding, break old and (or) form new chemical bonds. The reaction in the mixture takes place due to numerous accidents. Even if it happens in the lab under tightly controlled conditions, scientists do not control the interaction of individual atoms and molecules.
In the new experiment, experts have created a bond between the two atoms, manipulating them using a laser (optical) tweezers tool which allows you to within a few nanometers to move very small objects, including individual atoms, using a rapid series of laser pulses.
First, the atoms of alkali metals, cesium and sodium, cooled to a temperature below one ten-thousandth of a degree, and then began to push their laser beams towards each other as long as the rays are not layered on one another. The third pulse laser was reported by both atoms the energy required for the formation of chemical bonds; the result is a molecule of NaCs. An article about the study was published April 12 in the journal Science.
These controlled reactions in individual atoms and molecules in the future will allow scientists to study the physical processes leading to the formation of interatomic bonds, as well as to understand the behavior of isolated molecules. In addition, using the laser tweezers can be used to create molecules with desired quantum properties, says the head of the research group, the chemist from Harvard Nor Kang-Kuen (Kang-Kuen Ni). Such molecules will find use in quantum computers where they can be used as qubits, the authors explain the experiment.
Earlier, the Russian and French physicists have used laser tweezers in the manipulation of ring currents in the superconductor: they then forced currents (Abrikosov vortices) to form in the letters.