Dynamics of molecules in extreme rotational states

Liwei Yuan, Samuel W. Teitelbaum, Allison Robinson, Amy S. Mullin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


We have constructed an optical centrifuge with a pulse energy that is more than 2 orders of magnitude larger than previously reported instruments. This high pulse energy enables us to create large enough number densities of molecules in extreme rotational states to perform high-resolution state-resolved transient IR absorption measurements. Here we report the first studies of energy transfer dynamics involving molecules in extreme rotational states. In these studies, the optical centrifuge drives CO2 molecules into states with J ∼ 220 and we use transient IR probing to monitor the subsequent rotational, translational, and vibrational energy flow dynamics. The results reported here provide the first molecular insights into the relaxation of molecules with rotational energy that is comparable to that of a chemical bond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6872-6877
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 26 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon dioxide
  • High-energy molecules
  • Rotational dynamics
  • Strong optical fields
  • Transient spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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