Quantum chemistry – the branch of chemistry involves exploring the applications of quantum mechanics into chemical systems. Studies in quantum chemistry help to better comprehend the behaviour of pairs of group of atoms both in quantum state and chemical reactions as a result of their interactions.
A number of quantum chemistry studies investigated the interplay between pairs of atoms in a quantum state. Whilst some of these works led to interesting insights, lack of available techniques to observe and control the outcomes of individual atoms limit the scope of these studies.
A team of researchers at the Weizmann institute of Science have been attempting to devise new and more advanced instruments to examine the basic interplay between a single pair of atoms.
A new technique recently introduced based on quantum logic that can be used to explore the interactions between a cold ion and an ultracold neutral atom is published in Nature Physics.
By law of quantum mechanics, when atoms are brought up at small distances, they can experience several processes such as chemical reaction or energy release, stated one of the researchers who carried out the study.
In fact, methods that are previously devised can be used to study these processes, but require optical access and control of at least one of the atoms. This, in turn severely restricts the atomic species as well as the set of interactions that can be explored.
Importantly, this requirement is alleviated using the newly devise technique. It allows to study the interaction between several pairs of atoms using only a single additional atom, which works as a probe.
Essentially, the laser devised by researchers cooled and then caught a pair of ions and a cloud of neutral atoms.