Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Charge separation in a molecule consisting of two identical atoms: Size matters

Date:
November 28, 2011
Source:
University of Stuttgart
Summary:
Physicists have now shown the first experimental proof of a molecule consisting of two identical atoms that exhibits a permanent electric dipole moment. This observation contradicts the classical opinion described in many physics and chemistry textbooks.

Physicists from the University of Stuttgart show the first experimental proof of a molecule consisting of two identical atoms that exhibits a permanent electric dipole moment. This observation contradicts the classical opinion described in many physics and chemistry textbooks.
Credit: University of Stuttgart

Physicists from the University of Stuttgart show the first experimental proof of a molecule consisting of two identical atoms that exhibits a permanent electric dipole moment. This observation contradicts the classical opinion described in many physics and chemistry textbooks.

The work was recently published in the journal Science.

A dipolar molecule forms as a result of a charge separation between the negative charged electron cloud and the positive core, creating a permanent electric dipole moment. Usually this charge separation originates in different attraction of the cores of different elements onto the negative charged electrons. Due to symmetry reasons homonuclear molecules, consisting only of atoms of the same element, therefore could not possess dipole moments.

However, the dipolar molecules that were discovered by the group of Prof. Tilman Pfau at the 5th Institute of Physics at the University of Stuttgart do consist of two atoms of the element rubidium. The necessary asymmetry arises as a result of different electronically excited states of the two alike atoms. Generally this excitation will be exchanged between the atoms and the asymmetry will be lifted. Here this exchange is suppressed by the huge size of the molecule, which is about 1000 times larger than an oxygen molecule and reaches sizes of viruses. Therefore the probability to exchange the excitation between the two atoms is so small that it would statistically only happen once in the lifetime of the universe. Consequently, these homonuclear molecules possess a dipole moment. A permanent dipole moment additionally requires an orientation of the molecular axis. Due to their size the molecules rotate so slowly that the dipole moment does not average out from the viewpoint of an observer.

Physicists from the University of Stuttgart succeeded in experimentally detecting the dipole moment. They measured the energy shift of the molecule in an electric field by laser spectroscopy in an ultra cold atomic cloud. The same group caused worldwide a stir when they created these weakly bound Rydberg molecules for the first time in 2009. The molecules consist of two identical atoms whereof one is excited to a highly excited state, a so-called Rydberg state. The unusual binding mechanism relies on scattering of the highly excited Rydberg electron of the second atom. So far theoretical descriptions of this binding mechanism did not predict a dipole moment. However, the scattering of the Rydberg electron of the bound atom changes the probability distribution of the electron. This breaks the otherwise spherical symmetry and creates a dipole moment. In collaboration with theoretical physicists from the Max-Plank-Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden and from the Harvard-Smithonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, USA, a new theoretical treatment was developed that confirms the observation of a dipole moment.

The proof of a permanent dipole moment in a homonuclear molecule not only improves the understanding of polar molecules. Ultra cold polar molecules are also promising to study and control chemical reactions of single molecules.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Stuttgart. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Li, T. Pohl, J. M. Rost, S. T. Rittenhouse, H. R. Sadeghpour, J. Nipper, B. Butscher, J. B. Balewski, V. Bendkowsky, R. Low, T. Pfau. A Homonuclear Molecule with a Permanent Electric Dipole Moment. Science, 2011; 334 (6059): 1110 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211255

Cite This Page:

University of Stuttgart. "Charge separation in a molecule consisting of two identical atoms: Size matters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111125160904.htm>.
University of Stuttgart. (2011, November 28). Charge separation in a molecule consisting of two identical atoms: Size matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111125160904.htm
University of Stuttgart. "Charge separation in a molecule consisting of two identical atoms: Size matters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111125160904.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins