Dipolar collisions in cooling and trapping of paramagnetic atoms

Date of Completion

January 2011


Physics, Quantum|Physics, Molecular|Physics, Atomic




In this dissertation, I present ab initio theoretical results on cold and ultra-cold collision of atomic and molecular systems with magnetic and electric dipole moments. The collisions of different isotopes of maximally spin-polarized chromium atoms (52Cr and 53Cr), alkali-metal atom (Rb) - chromium atom, and magnetically trapped hydroxide (OH) with cold supersonic helium beam are considered in this thesis. Spin-changing cross sections and rate constants in Cr-Cr isotopic collision in the presence of a magnetic field are calculated by propagating a set of multichannel equations in the field. The coupling between dipole-dipole allowed and hyperfine channels are included. The short range electrostatic interactions between atoms and atom-molecule are represented with highly-accurate Born-Oppenheimer (BO) potential energy curves. Due to the large spin multiplicity in Cr-Cr and Rb-Cr interactions, more than the usual singlet and triplet channels are obtained. The long-range van der Waals (vdW) interactions between atoms are calculated, for Cr, by including accurate transition frequencies, discrete dipole matrix elements, and photoionization continuum oscillator strengths, and for Rb, using published dynamic polarizabilities. The vdW coefficients for Cr-Cr and Rb-Cr are obtained. In the cold collision regime, I investigate the influence of angular momentum shape resonances on the elastic and inelastic (loss channel) rate coefficients, and when the Zeeman relaxation, resulting in the loss of atoms from the trap, dominates elastic collision. Dipolar collisions are crucial to achieving quantum degeneracy. Magnetically tuned Fano-Feshbach closed-channel resonances are used to obtain zero-energy scattering lengths in comparison with observation of trap loss. In bosonic chromium collisions, resonances appear due only to dipolar interaction. The interplay between hyperfine and dipolar resonances in mixed-species Cr-Cr and Rb-Cr collisions is studied. In Rb-Cr, it is found that the molecule has broken symmetry and therefore contains a large permanent electric dipole moment in the ground state. A recent collisional experiment at JILA of a supersonic helium beam with a magnetically trapped OH radical found the onset of a quantum threshold in the total OH loss rate. Using ab initio BO energy surfaces, I calculated the spin-changing collisions which removed OH from the trap. Only after including the effect of the trapping potential on the collision dynamics, some agreement with observation was found. ^