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DropletControl Report Summary

Project ID: 320459
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Denmark

Mid-Term Report Summary - DROPLETCONTROL (Controlling the orientation of molecules inside liquid helium nanodroplets)

We use short and intense laser pulses to control and exploit the spatial orientation of molecules dissolved in nanodroplets of liquid helium. The purpose is two-fold. First, we want to understand how and how-well the rotation of molecules can be controlled in the presence of a dissipative environment and through these studies learn about the unique collective quantum phenomena of superfluid helium droplets such as quantized vortices. Second, we want to explore ultrafast chemical reactions, such as bond-breaking and isomerization of molecules coupled to a dissipative environment.

The first half of the project period has been devoted to building a new state-of-the-art experimental instrument that allows studies of molecules in helium droplets under the conditions that are needed for the scientific projects planned. With some delay caused by unforeseen factors the instrument is now ready and already producing excellent results. Also, a new ultrashort mid-infrared light source and an optical centrifuge has been constructed and set up. Several new results with the mid-infrared light source have been achieved and the first experiment with the optical centrifuge will take place in early 2016.

Furthermore, a variety of results have been obtained with existing equipment in the laboratory. This includes a molecular movie of the torsional motion of chiral molecules, direct identification of the left-handed and right-handed mirror forms of chiral molecules, and improvement and real-time monitoring of the degree of spatial orientation of molecules inside helium nanodroplets using a sequence of short laser pulses.

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